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Foundations of Ministry – The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way by KP Yohannan

The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way

Foundations of Ministry

The Lord's Work Done in the Lord's Way - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

It’s not always easy to wait. If we are honest, we will admit that we are usually restless when we have nothing to do. We need noises and things happening all the time. We want to be kept busy and have something to do at any given moment of the day. Most of us have difficulty just being quiet and still, waiting before the Lord.

Why is it so hard to wait? Oftentimes it can be because our motive in the ministry is wrong.

Why Restless?

In the past, we have had a couple of families on staff with us who left the ministry because they were dissatisfied, feeling as though they were not doing what they considered “real” ministry.

In one particular situation I remember a wife who said, “I came here to serve the Lord, and I have no ministry.” This family had two children to take care of, but for her, raising those children in the fear of the Lord, serving her family and being an intercessor for the lost world was not real ministry. She wanted to do something that appeared more significant.

Please understand. It is good to long to serve God in the best way we can. But discontentment, discouragement, frustration and grumbling just because we don’t like what the Lord gave us to do is not good. We must be able to discern between truly desiring to please the Lord and our own restlessness and self-seeking.

We must be able to discern what is motivating us in the work of the Lord. A lot of times we can be pulled in many different directions by the needs around us. And we can like it too.

The work of the Lord certainly has its satisfaction for the flesh. There is the crowd of people, the results, the praise, the attention and the “thank-yous”—all of these can really make the flesh feel good. We definitely enjoy the attention, the limelight and the sense of accomplishment and self-worth that come in ministry.

But what we are called to in serving Him must be rooted in pleasing Him and done out of our love for Him—not our own gratification and glory. It must be for His.

Two Kinds of Servants

In Ezekiel 44, we find two groups of servants of God. One group were the Levites who spent their days busy, busy, busy in the outer court of the temple serving the people who came to worship the Lord.

These men were responsible for preparing the sacrifices and getting them ready for offering. Twenty-four hours a day, they were busy in the outer court, where it was full of people and noises. Many people saw the work the Levites were doing; it was a very visible thing. They were dragging the animals in, sacrificing them and putting them on the altar. These men were in great demand by the multitudes, pulled in all different directions, motivated by the screaming needs around them and all that needed to be done.

But there was also another group—the sons of Zadoc. These were men of the inner court. Where they stood, there was stillness. Unlike the outer court, the inner court was silent. Deadly quiet. The only individual there was God. There was no busyness, no service in front of people, no demand but to come into the holy of holies and minister unto the Lord.

Let me ask you—which group are you in? Are you like one of the sons of Zadoc, more concerned with coming into the holy of holies and ministering to the Lord than being busy serving the people? Or do you just keep going, going, going, moved in every direction with the busyness of the ministry? These are serious questions we must ask ourselves.

This reminds me of the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38–42 (NIV).

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It is clear in this passage, although our flesh would much rather be in the center of attention, that the better thing is to be more concerned with sitting “at the Lord’s feet listening,” rather than busy with all the ways we are trying to serve God. It wasn’t that Martha’s service was wrong. Not at all. What was wrong was that “Martha was distracted” from her first love by all of it. Jesus said Mary “has chosen what is better”—to leave the busy place of the outer courts and come into the inner court and minister to Him.

Purify Our Hearts

But the truth is, we all have the same problem—wicked hearts. We’d rather be one of the priests who are busy standing before the people, active in what is immediately needed. We want our ministry to look dramatic and effective. Our flesh wants to glory in the praise of men.

Just think about it. If asked to do a job that is below our educational qualifications or beneath our dignity, how glad are we? How eager are we to continue if the results are not what we would like?

As humans, we often measure godliness and spirituality by external activities or a certain type of behavior that we see in people. The Pharisees were considered extremely spiritual people by the way they fasted and prayed and put on a humble demeanor.

Yet we know how Jesus spoke of them, identifying them for what they truly were and pronouncing the worst judgment upon them (see Matthew 23:13). Despite how spiritual they looked, they did not know the Father. And without that, all their religious activity meant nothing. The motivation behind all their action was full of self, not love for God. The motive is what makes the work spiritual or unspiritual.

We shouldn’t worry about how things look, what people might be saying, or whether or not there are the results we thought there would be. Our number-one concern must be to know Him and His ways and to follow His lead.

When we live like this, what happens, whether good or bad in man’s sight, whether productive or useless in man’s opinion has no bearing. We are not working for human beings. We are doing it because of our love for Him. It is ministry unto Him, and this pleases Him.

May we be reminded of the words of Paul, who facing incredible responsibilities, great need and overwhelming difficulties still said, “None of these things move me” (Acts 20:24). The difficulties and problems, all the blessings and praise, the good and the bad that happened, none of these things changed his course. Issues of personal life or loss did not sway him. All he wanted to do was the ministry the Lord gave him to do. Nothing else and nobody else motivated him.

Please, we need to evaluate what our motive has been in serving the Lord. Are we seeking to meet the need around us, or are we seeking to know and please Him? Are we controlled, motivated and energized by our talents and by opportunities that present themselves? Do needs and others’ voices guide our course? Or do we really know, in our innermost being, that we are serving our King? Ask yourself these questions.

Whatever we are doing, whoever we are serving, we must be able to do it all with the heart attitude that we are doing this for no one but our God.

Fruitful Stillness

Please understand. I am not saying that it is better to forsake the work of the ministry to pursue the “deeper life” of just drawing close to God in solitude. There are some who give such great emphasis on this “deeper life,” yet so much of the actual work that God has for them goes neglected under the license of “waiting” upon Him. This can often just be a glorified laziness—and there are plenty of verses throughout Scripture that speak of the downfall of the sluggard (see Proverbs 21:25).

If we look at the life of Jesus, we see He was extremely busy—traveling here, walking there, healing her, touching him, speaking from a boat, teaching on a hill. He used His time and opportunities to the maximum.

Yet we also read, over and over again, how He would break away from the crowd and all the activity to be with the Father. His entire ministry, all of the seeming “busyness,” flowed out of His intimate relationship with the Father.

A.W. Tozer spoke of the need for this today, saying,

There is no question but that part of our failure today is religious activity that is not preceded by an aloneness—an inactivity. I mean the art of getting alone with God and waiting in silence and in quietness until we are charged, and then, when we act, our activity really amounts to something, because we have been prepared for it. . . . We can go to God with an activity that is “inactive.” We go to God with a heart that isn’t acting in the flesh or in the natural—trying to do something— but going to God and waiting. It just means that within, our inner spirit is seeing and hearing and mounting up on wings, while the outer, physical person is inactive, and even the mind is to some degree suspended. . . . There is an inactivity which, paradoxically, is the highest possible activity. There can be a suspension of the activity of the body as when our Lord told His disciples to tarry until they were filled with the Holy Spirit—and they did! They waited on God.1

My brothers and sisters, first thing must be first. It all comes back to this one priority: our love for Jesus. No matter how hard we try, no matter what methods we try, the service that pleases Him most is the service done out of love.

© 2004 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.


Click here, to read more articles about GFA Books, or visit Patheos.

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Founded by God

The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way

Founded by God

The Lord's Work Done in the Lord's Way - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

All that brings glory to God and lasts in eternity must have its origin with God, not with ourselves. Ministry is something given to us by God. Jesus called the disciples to follow Him; they did not call themselves. Jesus called Paul. John the Baptist was a man “sent from God” (John 1:6, emphasis mine).

Along with this, there is another principle present all throughout the lives of people mentioned in the Bible. Over and over again we see that waiting upon God precedes the unfolding of His plan or purpose.

One example is seen in the life of Isaiah. It was as he waited in God’s presence that he received the call to be a messenger to the children of Israel (see Isaiah 6:1–9).

This is also how it happened with the disciples’ ministry after the ascension of Christ. Scripture says, “[Jesus] commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). It was as they waited upon God that they received His call for their lives, and then they went out proclaiming His resurrection and salvation.

The calling of Saul and Barnabas happened in a similar manner. Acts 13:2–3 tells us, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

Notice especially verse two—it was “as they ministered to the Lord” that they heard Him and found out His plan.

It was not when they had a committee meeting (although there is nothing wrong with committee meetings). It was not when they met to discuss the tremendous needs (although that is a good thing to do). It did not happen because somebody challenged them and said, “You had better get out there and do something about all those lost people.” It was not when they did something that was a nice, wholesome, well-planned and thought-out thing to do. It was as they waited upon the Lord.

Before the world began, God knew Barnabas and Saul would be the ones serving Him in this manner. We see this same principle at work in the life of the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

It is encouraging to know that before the world began, God knew the purpose and plan that He has for each one of us (see Acts 17:26). Whether our human mind and our logic can grasp it or not, it is true. ‘‘ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NASB).

However, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Saul and Barnabas, we only learn of the plans He already has prepared for us as we take the time to come into His presence and hear from Him.

Of Greater Importance

There is also another principle we see all throughout Scripture, one that I am much more concerned about. That is, we must remain in the attitude of waiting upon the Lord. One incident in David’s life perfectly illustrates the importance of this.

In 2 Samuel 5:19, we are told, “David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?’ And the LORD said to David, ‘Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.’”

And so, after hearing from the Lord,David did what He said, and he was victorious.

A few verses later, David is faced with an almost identical circumstance. Once more the Philistines had stationed themselves in the same valley, and once more, they were waiting to attack Israel.

It would have been natural for David to respond to this battle as he did the one before. After all, the previous plan had been a success, and the enemy and the location were exactly the same. David could have easily said, “Well, it’s the same situation so let’s just forget about another prayer meeting. We know how to get the job done. Let’s go and put these Philistines to flight.”

But David didn’t do that. Instead, he took the time to once again seek the Lord. Second Samuel 5:23 says, “Therefore David inquired of the LORD, and He said, ‘You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees.’”

“You shall not go up.” Do you see that? God had a different plan this time, and David only learned of it because he lived in the atmosphere of waiting upon God, to hear from Him and obey. By this, his ministry was done in connection with Him and unto Him.

There is the requirement that as we continue in the journey the Lord has us on, we must stop often along the way and find out what He is saying. By doing this, our love for the Lord stays strong, the ministry that began out of that love for Him remains in Him and the work done is accomplished in His way.

There are hundreds of Christian organizations, churches, groups and ministries that began so well. But somewhere along the way, somehow, a lot of them stopped waiting upon the Lord, causing their love for Him to grow cold. As a result, their ministry ended up in the flesh, and once again the Scripture is fulfilled—“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3, NASB).

God addresses this same issue with His prophets in Isaiah 29:13 (NIV), saying, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” They may look real and authentic; they may have started well; their service may appear genuine, but it is not. It cannot be because their hearts are now far from Him.

When we stay in the attitude of continuous dependence upon God, what has begun in the Spirit remains in the Spirit and bears lasting fruit.

Doing the Lord’s work in His way is of paramount importance. If we continue the work without His direction, leading and strength, it won’t be His work at all. It will be only a hollow shell that might look all right but in reality has no life and bears no lasting fruit.

We must come into His presence and wait upon Him, to hear from Him and know His ways.

© 2004 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.


Click here, to read more articles about GFA Books, or visit Patheos.

Go here to know more about Gospel for Asia: Twitter | Instagram | GFA.net

God Speaks to Us

The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way

The Lord's Work Done in the Lord's Way - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

I’m looking for one who will wait and watch

For My beckoning hand, My eye—

Who will work in My manner the work I give,

And the work I give not pass by.

And oh the joy that is brought to Me

When one such as this I can find—

A man who will do all My will,

Who is set to study his Master’s mind.1

Recently in our ministry, there has been a spiritual renewal taking place in the lives of our leaders on the mission field. As a result, these leaders have called for 90 days of continuous chain-prayer, involving thousands of people, to seek the Lord for greater spiritual reality and renewal among those who serve with us. It all began when some of our senior leaders met for four days of planning and consultation concerning the ministry and what needed to be done. Because the work is growing so fast, we remain with only one thing that is permanent—change. Every two or three years, new systems need to be deployed to handle the increase. People have to be transferred. Strategies must be reworked. It is often out of sheer necessity and urgency that these meetings are called.

Several meetings were scheduled throughout the Indian subcontinent, with the first one taking place in North India with 25 leaders present. As usual, their time started off with the first few hours of the first day’s meeting in a time of worship. The room was filled with worship and prayer, but as time went on, the prayers wouldn’t stop. They continued on into the evening, and the Lord’s presence became very real in that place.

God began to speak through one of the senior leaders in attendance. With a specific word given to him, he spoke what the Lord was saying to the leaders individually. The Lord knew just what each one was facing in their lives and ministry, and He exhorted them and spoke the exact word needed at that time.

After this, a general message from the Lord was given for everyone in the meeting. The essence of the message was, “You are extremely busy in doing My work and meeting the desperate need of the lost world. You sacrifice and suffer for Me. I am very happy and very pleased with what you are doing for Me. You share My concern, My burden, and I am well pleased. But, at the same time, I am sad because your love for Me is growing thin.”

There was no judgment, no condemnation in what God spoke to them. But those words changed the entire agenda for their meeting. Instead of seeking solutions on how to handle the work, their first priority became just to stay in the place of prayer and worship and draw closer to Him.

At the next meeting place, a similar incident happened. God began to speak the exact same message through someone else.

Discerning that this was a serious matter on the heart of God, the leaders called for everyone throughout our work to take time and personally seek the Lord concerning this message.

When I heard what had happened and all that had taken place, I began to think deeply about what the Lord had said during these meetings. It reminded me of what He spoke to the church of Ephesus. He commended them for all the good work they were doing, but then, just like in our leaders meeting, He said, “I am sad also.”

I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works (Revelation 2:2–5, emphasis mine).

In the midst of intense work and ministry, the Lord was saddened. Why? Because their love for Him was fading away.

Nothing about their ministry had changed. The Lord said that He had seen their work, their labor, the patience and endurance that they had in it all. He commended them for their work and the lives they were affecting. But somehow, in it all, their hearts had changed.

My brothers and sisters, we can be in the same danger.

The ministry that was first done unto Him and out of their love for Him now began operating under a different intent. If we are not careful, we can become so consumed with serving the ministry God gave us and forget the Lord Himself.

This is why He cries out to them (paraphrase), “Repent and return to your first love. Then continue with the ministry I have given you. Minister because you love Me. Whatever you do, do it as unto Me.”

A Definition

What is doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way? We must properly define it so that we may be able to attain it.

In Matthew 25:40 (KJV), Jesus defines true ministry—doing the Lord’s work in His way— in one simple sentence: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Christian ministry, by nature, affects and benefits humanity. We serve God by serving people. The ministry that God has called you to is never isolated from the people He has placed in your life. However, there is a balance that must be kept in Christian service. It is not just a balance of external priorities, what is done first and what is done second, but one that runs much deeper and is the well out of which all ministry springs. It is the attitude of the heart.

Doing the Lord’s work in His way is living in the awareness that whatever we are doing, whatever ministry the Lord has called us to, forever we maintain the understanding that we do it unto Him. Our service must be rooted in Him, motivated by our love for Him and done with the desire to exalt His name and His name alone.

There will come a time when each of us and the ministry the Lord gave us to do on this earth will be tested by fire (see 1 Corinthians 3:13). Only that ministry which was done in His way will last. It does not matter what it may have looked like on this earth, it does not matter how well-known it may have been or how much fruit it may have seemed to produce. If it was not done as unto Him, it was not done in His way . . . and it will not stand in eternity.

My brothers and sisters, I share this message with you soberly, knowing how easy it is to run about with our own ideas and our own agendas. Everything can look so good and we can seem to be running on the right track. But if our understanding toward ministry has moved from being one of ministry unto Him to getting results, building a name and serving the people, we are dangerously off course.

How All Is Lost

How is it that, even in ministry, we can lose our first love?

It all begins when we neglect to come into His presence and sit at His feet. It is in His presence that we grow in our understanding of Him and His ways, and are equipped to go and carry out the ministry He gave us to do. Our lives take on the atmosphere of living moment by moment waiting, listening for His voice and being sensitive to Him, seeking to do what He desires.

But when we walk away from this, unfortunately it doesn’t mean that all ministry screeches to a halt. In fact, the “ministry” can seem to carry on as usual. The need is still there. The people are still there. Yet when we choose to carry on without waiting before Him, we take the first step off of the right road. We may take well-meaning actions to see the ministry continue, but they are independent actions if not born out of His presence.

One of these well-meaning actions, for example, is taking on work that God did not give to us, just because the need is so great, the opportunities seem unlimited, and we are driven by urgency.

I know for our ministry, the need is absolutely huge, mind-boggling. We need to get the Gospel to so many people before they die and are lost for eternity. So it is logical and reasonable to be absolutely committed and fully involved in doing everything we possibly can to reach the lost. But if we do this independent of Him, our love for and intimacy with the Lord begin to fade away and our ministry cannot be pleasing to Him, no matter what kind of fruit it is producing.

As a ministry, we have found that the safest thing we can do is to come into the Lord’s presence and draw closer to Him, that we may know His ways and follow His lead. In the beginning of our ministry, we would ask the Lord, “What more can we do?” Now it is different. As one of the fastest-growing movements, we are continually challenged and confronted with so many things we could do. So much so that our major concern has become, “Lord, what should we not do?”

Another independent action that results in the loss of intimacy and love for the Lord is when we fail to stop and ask Him how He wants His work to be done.

Oftentimes, meeting the current needs becomes more important than how ministry is done. It is in response to necessity that we often create new structures, new systems, new leaders and new training, and we just keep being pulled in all kinds of directions. It is easy to be so consumed by the immediate that it eventually becomes the focus.

We can be spending all our time trying to get the track built for the train to run on, trying to organize and facilitate, yet never stopping to consider that maybe the Lord doesn’t need all these structures and plans. Maybe He has all kinds of other ways to do this ministry. But we are so consumed with our business mind and structure and logic that we just keep on doing things in our own ways.

Recently I have been increasingly concerned about this, and God’s speaking to us has strengthened that concern. I wonder, “Lord, is this the way we should be functioning and serving You?”

We have often seen how God, in His mercy, steps in, like in our leaders meeting, and changes our plans, setting first thing first.

I am so thankful that the Lord had the freedom to come to us in that way even when none of our leaders expected it. It is a relief to know He is with us, watching over the work. It was like spending a day out in hot, humid summer weather and finally getting a good, cool shower. It is refreshing! “Ah yes!” He is with us and He is leading us.

At the same time, I was made aware that we must be careful and concerned about how we proceed in serving the Lord. By no means do I want you to think I am saying we should stop our work and not do what we are doing. That is not how it works. In fact, it seems the more we take the time to wait and hear from the Lord, the more actual work that we do—but rather in His strength, not ours.

This is how the Lord’s work is done in His way—by loving Him more than the ministry He gave us to do, by waiting in His presence to hear His voice and by continuing in that sensitivity to Him so that we are always doing His will, in His strength.

© 2004 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.


Click here, to read more articles about GFA Books, or visit Patheos.

Go here to know more about Gospel for Asia: Instagram | GFA.net | GFA Reports

The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way

The Lord's Work Done in the Lord's Way - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

“I have set the LORD always before me . . .” Psalm 16:8a

I spoke this message to our fellowship on July 30, 2002. It was one of those days especially set apart for prayer and waiting upon the Lord. We began with hours of worship and adoration, during which the Lord became very real to us.

What I share here was the result of a growing burden God gave me during that time, calling us to remember once more that we must continually draw near to Him, to hear Him and grow in our love and understanding of Him. To try to do any ministry apart from this is a sad mistake.

Our emphasis—no matter what we do—must always be to know the Lord and His ways. Only then can the work be done in total dependence upon Him.  Only then can our work bring Him glory. May the Lord draw you closer to Himself as you read this.

© 2004 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.


Click here, to read more articles about GFA Books, or visit Patheos.

Go here to know more about Gospel for Asia: GFA.net | GFA Reports | My GFA