“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:24)
According to the New Testament, “ministry” is what all Christians do. According to Ephesians 4:11–12, pastors have the job of equipping the saints for the work of ministry. But ordinary Christians are the ones who do the ministry.
What ministry looks like is as varied as Christians are varied. It’s not an office like elder or deacon; it’s a lifestyle devoted to making much of Christ and meeting the needs of others.
It means that we “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Whether we are bankers or bricklayers, it means that we aim at advancing other people’s faith and holiness to the glory of God.
Fulfilling your ministry is more important than staying alive. This conviction is what makes the lives of radically devoted people so inspiring to watch. Most of them speak the way Paul did about his ministry here in Acts 20:24: “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” Doing the ministry that God gives us to do is more important than life.
You may think you need to save your life in order to do your ministry. On the contrary, how you lose your life may be the capstone of your ministry. It certainly was for Jesus — only in his thirties.
We need not fret about keeping ourselves alive in order to finish our ministry. God alone knows the appointed time of our service. He will decide when our death is not an interruption of our ministry, but the last act of our ministry.
Henry Martyn was right when he said, “If [God] has work for me to do, I cannot die.” In other words, I am immortal until my work is done. Therefore, ministry is more important than life.