“Service,” that is, the responsibility and work that God commits to believers in Christ, each according to the special capacity that God gives for instructing and helping others. Service for Christ is not to be done out of a desire to achieve merit or on the basis of a legalistic obligation. It is to be done out of love and gratitude to God for what he has done for us in Christ (Romans 12:1; John 21:15,16; II Corinthians 4:1-6).
Ministry is the use of a person’s gifts and talents, time and energy, in the service of others.
A ministry is a way of serving and caring for others in Christ’s name.
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I’m having a sudden “AH HA” moment – a paradigm shift somewhat gradually over the past couple of weeks. That innkeeping and caring for our guests is a ministry.
We had some people show up that were not very friendly. It always tends to annoy us when people show up with a total attitude and are jerks to us from the get go (who wouldn’t be annoyed by rude house guests?) At any rate, after they were checked in and DH was fuming about how rude they were, I just out of the blue said “I wonder if something happened before they got here? I wonder what they are going through in their lives? Maybe their behavior is not just that they are rude jerks, but maybe they are in the midst of a crisis and that is causing them to act this way.” And I prayed for them that night.
The following morning, they were like different guests. Super friendly and thankful. They were here for three nights total and when they left, they wrote a nice note in the room journal.
Since then, while I am cleaning each cottage, I pray for the arriving guests. I pray for their drive and their state of mind and that getting away to stay here will be a blessing to them. And interestingly, since I began praying for them, they have all been super nice.
This has made me think back to how things were in Georgia. How we would periodically have guests who really were in crisis. I remember praying for and WITH them. Lots of hugs when they would leave and follow-up cards and letters. Here, we do not have as much guest interaction due to having cottages (and the guests who want to stay in cottages tend to be big on privacy and being left alone.) This is one of the main reasons that our next B&B will NOT be cottages, it will be four rooms in one structure with common areas to promote guest interaction.
I’m rambling. At any rate, what I am slowly coming to realize is something that our guests have been telling us since the beginning. Our business is also our ministry. We provide a safe haven and respite for those who need it – be it couples getting away to get back in touch with each other, newlyweds just starting out, mothers and sisters spending time together, someone visiting a family member at school or in the hospital, even corporate travelers. We invite them into our home and we do everything we can to take care of them. But the most important part has just been added – we PRAY for them. I can see this being something that we do around the diningroom table each night as a family – praying for each of our guests, without them ever even being aware of it.
Another important key that we’ve not been in a financial position to do before is providing deeply discounted or free accommodations for those in full-time Christian ministries. Pastors, missionaries, etc. With always being strapped to a mortgage, we’ve needed every reservation’s revenue to make ends meet. If the Lord allows us to go forward debt free, we will finally be in a position to truly be a blessing to others in this regard.
I’ve always wondered if we were supposed to be active in some ministry – and it appears our “ministry” has been in front of us the entire time without us ever really realizing it.