There are often times that believers would like to minister to others but don't know what to do or how to do it. Many might not have the gifts to teach a class or provide special music in worship services and they feel that because of this there is nothing worthwhile that they can do. Sometimes physical problems or age do limit what one can do and it is easy to get discouraged and feel worthless. But God has granted all of His children gifts that can be used in important and maybe sometimes very quiet ways. There is no retirement in using our gifts to minister. We just need to be willing to look for opportunities and then take them.
Now, if one is physically able, there are many numerous ways to serve. You could be a helper in Sunday School, VBS, Awana or serve as an usher in church. You could help visit shut-ins. You could help some physically challenged folks with their house or yard work or even snow removal in the winter - wow, would I appreciate such help at this point in my life. There might folks in your neighborhood who can use visits or help. You could help serve at luncheons for funerals or special church gatherings. Or maybe you could volunteer in a hospital or a nursing home. That can be a vital ministry.
But maybe you've reached the point where physically you can no longer do such things. If you are serious about ministering there are still so many ways that you can serve the Lord. Maybe the church office has special needs, like folding bulletins or preparing mailings. Maybe you could use the telephone to call and welcome visitors who attend a worship service. The telephone can still be a useful tool in reaching not only visitors to your church, but those who are shut-ins or lonely. And there are so many today who need to hear a voice of cheer, even if it is brief.
The U.S. mail and, in this day and age, e-mail are great tools to use to minister. Notes of encouragement are a great way to minister. During recent months as we've faced numerous physical challenges, I have received a couple of very unexpected notes from folks that I don't even know very well. They were timely, sincerely appreciated and so helpful. Look for folks who need to be encouraged. Look for folks who minister, often behind the scenes, who probably never get thanked for their service. A thank you note would lighten their day. Look for folks who are facing difficult challenges and let them know you are praying for them. And then, be sure to pray for them, don't forget them and follow up to see how things are going. That means so much.
And that leads to another important and vital way to minister - prayer. The older I get, the more I understand the power and need of prayer. And I am learning that as I am becoming much more limited physically, that I have much more time to pray. Ironically the first duet that my wife and I ever sang in a church had the title, "In the Secret Service of Prayer". Prayer can be a secret, but vital ministry that all of us can do. Don't take it for granted.
Be creative and look for other ways to help and encourage others. Many years ago we began a quiet ministry of sending birthday cards to those who attend our church. Now my wife is really the one who carries this on today. And yes, cards have become very expensive. We do save some money by putting them in the church mailboxes. Is it worth the cost? Without a doubt! Hardly a Sunday goes by that somebody doesn't tell us how much our card has meant to them. People just don't send birthday cards anymore and most folks who do receive one really appreciate it. It even means more if a personal note is included. A card shows the one who receives it that somebody does care. Now, if the cost for cards is too much, there are always free electronic cards or personal e-mails or you can make your cards on the computer or by hand. People just appreciate having somebody think about them.
And don't neglect opportunities to minister where ever the Lord places you. My wife had amazing opportunities to minister to several nurses while she spent six days in the hospital. She didn't want to be there but the Lord gave her a special audience. Maybe that is part of the reason the Lord placed her there. But that might be a topic for another blog.
Just remember, we are never too old or physically challenged to be able to minister for the Lord. We just need to be willing. And it will also be an encouragement to you as you serve others. And maybe you need that as well.