Back in the day, dad had a little blue honda civic hatchback made in 1983. It was the car that took him to work every day. Eventually it became my first car. Do you remember those? Have you ever seen one? Imagine a Geo Metro but smaller. This car could fit in a Metro. It might be able to fit in your bedroom closet. It was a four-speed manual drive car that could easily change lanes by driving underneath semi truck trailers. I never did that, but the thought did occur to me a few times.
There was this moment in time when the car wouldn’t start unless you pushed it forward or let it roll down a hill. I think it was preteen at the time. Dad’s car gave out and shut off while he was on a DFW highway. He took the exit ramp to get off the busy road and coasted into a neighborhood to avoid any accidents. (If anyone has ever driven through Dallas/Fort Worth, you know that it requires some real skill to coast off the highway without getting hit by some other car.)
He gave us a call from his cell phone and we met him to help him get his car started up again. He told us, “Push the car and I’ll try and get it going.” There was no hill. It was a completely flat road. I had no help. It was ridiculously hot outside. I gave it all I had. I even grunted, hoping that the grunt would help me push a little harder. I starting moving the car forward, pushed harder to gain momentum, dad turned the key and we got the car started. When he got it started, he zoomed forward a bit and I just got off the back end of the car enough to keep myself from falling headfirst to the pavement. When I stood up all the way, I experienced something I had never experienced before: I saw stars. I pushed so hard that I was seeing stars! Has that ever happened to you? It took awhile before the stars went away.
Do you ever feel like you need a little push to get going? Or are you the one that seems to be doing all the pushing? You might be the one getting pushed and don’t like it. Sometimes we all need a little motivation to get moving. However, some of us have become complacent enough that trying to get started is like pushing a car with square tires.
In Galatians 1:11-24, Paul wrote about the start up of his ministry. For some strange reason, he’d always had that motivation to do something for God. During the early years it was all about him working for God. After his conversion it became all about God doing the work in his life and him telling others about it. God had this man in mind to work through him to point to people to God. God then revealed His Son in him to preach the gospel, which is a continuing revealing of His Son.
There’s something in the early stages of his ministry that I’d like to point out to you, though. It convicts me on how I do ministry and what kind of ministry I do. Paul didn’t ask anyone if it’d be okay for him to go and preach. He just did. He knew the calling and acted upon it. The class of people he spoke with made no difference to him either. There was no one he tried to please anymore. Just God. That’s all there was because there wasn’t anything else. God already did the work so why did he need to do it anymore? God gave him favor. God approved of him because of Jesus. What other approval did he need?
What if we had that kind of attitude in ministry? I think a lot of us don’t do things because of fear of what others might think. If you’re anything like me, we don’t begin because we’re still thinking about the approval of men. But we don’t need it! God has already done the work and now He has already given us approval because of His Son! God has already given us His favor! What other approval do we need?
God jump-started our ministry and pushed us into the momentum of His grace. All we need to do is flow with Him, with what He’s already doing. When we can get ourselves, the desire for approval out of the way, we’ll be able to declare with Paul the statement I hope defines my ministry: And they praised God because of me.