But I want to make something clear: our highest priority is intimacy with God. If we pursue a ministry of power without seeking to know God above all else, we could get into some serious trouble.
It is not that we should neglect other ministries to pursue the knowledge of God; it is that intimacy with God should be the foundation of all other ministries and pursuits.
True ministry flows out of intimacy with God. There are several examples I can give, but I will mention three:
1. The Example of Jesus
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
A major key to the ministry of Jesus was His intimacy with the Father. He did what He saw the Father doing. He said what He heard the Father saying. His compassion, authority, and power were rooted in relationship to God.
The gospels show that Jesus would often get away from the crowds to spend time in prayer. He prioritized relationship with God above everything else; even ministering to the needs of others. We must follow in His steps.
2. The Example of the Disciples
Jesus established this same pattern when He called the twelve:
Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.
Notice that their first calling was to be with Him. Yes, they would be sent to preach the kingdom, heal the sick, and cast out demons. But their first and most important calling was to know the Lord.
This knowledge of God comes by spending time with Him. If we want to know God, we should spend time seeking His presence in prayer and meditating on His Word. Spiritual disciplines provide a context for our relationship with God to grow.
3. The Example of Mary of Bethany
There are some great insights we can learn from the story of Mary and her sister Martha. Jesus was over for dinner, and Martha was busy serving. Mary on the other hand “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word” (Luke 10:39).
Martha complained that she was doing all the serving while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. Listen to Jesus’ response: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
There are many great things we can do, but Jesus said that one thing is needed. That one thing is intimacy with God. All other noble and valid things we might be called to—evangelizing, teaching, healing, missions, caring for the poor—should flow from the place of intimacy.
How is your relationship with God? I am not asking about your salvation; but your walk with God. In the busyness of life, work, or ministry, have you lost sight of your highest calling?
Let’s return to our first love. Let’s get back to the priority of intimacy with God!
Questions: Do you have a tendency to be a “Martha” or a “Mary”? How can we prioritize intimacy with God, while at the same time not neglecting other ministries and callings from the Lord?