What Does it Mean to Be in Ministry? | Ashley Varner
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What Does it Mean to Be in Ministry?

If you’ve ever thought, “I can’t talk to her about Jesus, that’s the pastor’s job,” then this episode is for you!

Today, we’re unpacking the truth that every woman who is following Christ is in full-time ministry.

You’ll discover how you are like a puzzle piece and take steps to help you focus on your kingdom impact!

Info from the Show

  • Discover the real definition of Full-Time Ministry (HINT: It has nothing to do with being paid!)
  • The mindset shift you can make today to step into the role God has for you
  • The puzzle piece that only you fit

Links and Resources



Hey there, you’re listening to the Graceful Life podcast, where women learn to balance their families, health, work and ministry with grace all without sacrificing their own relationship with the Lord. I’m your host, Ashley Varner. I’m a Jesus girl, wife to my high school sweetheart and business partner and mom to the two sweetest boys I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I invite you to join me each week for some real life talk, encouragement, and grace. So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started.

Welcome to Episode One of the Graceful Life podcast. If you haven’t listened to the welcome episode, I want to encourage you to do that. I am your host, Ashley Varner, and in that episode I kind of tell a little bit about myself, a little bit about how this podcast is going to work and the topics and things like that, that we’re going to be touching on. So, if you haven’t checked that out, please go and check that one out first just so you can get to know me a little bit better. One of the things that I shared in that first episode is that each month we’re going to be having a big idea topic. So each month there’s going to be kind of a focus and then each week we’re going to talk about different lessons based on that topic.

The topic for February is, You Are Called. I am a huge believer that every woman who is serving the Lord is a ministry and so we’re going to talk about what it actually means to be in ministry. You see, I think a lot of us kind of get a little bit of that missed conception about ministry and not just women, but people in general. There’s like “the them” and “the us”. There’s the pastors and the one’s who are working at the church full time and getting a paycheck from the Church and there’s the rest of us who come in and sit in the pews and they’re in ministry and we’re not, but nothing could be further from the truth.

I always, even growing up in my life, just to start off, I grew up with two teachers as parents who were also children’s evangelists. We traveled all the time even though they didn’t get a paycheck from a church, we were in ministry throughout the summers that we were off and they were just super involved in church. It wasn’t just that we went whenever the doors were open but we were actively serving. And so I kind of grew up thinking that I would always be in full time ministry and I ended up following the will of God and not ending up in ministry. I mean, I went to a Christian college and I got these degrees and I always thought, you know what, I’m going to be serving the Lord.

I’m going to be in full time ministry, and there was something in me that always felt a little bit bad, because I saw all these friends that I had from college that, they were missionaries, and pastor’s wives, and pastors themselves, and all these different facets of ministry, and then here I was in the business sector. And I knew that I was supposed to be, right where I was supposed to be. I had prayed about the person that I married. We started a business together. Well, he started the business and then whenever we got married I kind of, I was going to say took over, but that’s not true. Whenever we got married, I just started working with him side by side, and I knew that I was right where God wanted me to be. I knew that I was smack dab in the middle of his will, but I wasn’t in ministry anymore. I was in the business world.

And so for a long time, like I said, I felt really bad about the fact that I wasn’t in ministry, and I thought man, maybe I missed it, like maybe I’m not where God wants me to be, but every time I would think that, the Lord would call me back and say, “Nope, you are right where you need to be.” I would have a peace about where I was and what I was doing. And so I know that there’s a lot of women out there, that you’re not in full time ministry. Maybe you are but maybe you’re not. And you think, “Maybe I teach a Sunday School class or I mentor a woman,” or whatever it is, but I’m not in ministry. And I want to encourage you today and tell you that you are called. You are in ministry. What does it mean, to be in full time ministry?

Whenever you are serving the Lord and you know that you are following him, that you are seeking after him, you are spending time with him, you’ve asked him to be the Lord of your life, then congratulations, you’re in full time ministry. You have a calling on your life that no one else has. I was just listening to a friend of mine speaking, and he said, “God’s purpose for you is like a puzzle piece, and you are the only person that can fit that particular piece.” My youngest son, or my oldest son whenever he was younger, he loved puzzles and he was always putting these puzzles together, and for a while, I mean he was just really good at it. And so my younger son, he would try and help and he would get really frustrated because he would get a piece and it was almost like he was just willing himself to fit a piece in a certain spot. It didn’t matter if that was the right piece, he was just trying to jam it in there, and it would make my older son so upset, because my older son is really a perfectionist, and didn’t like that.

So a lot of times we do the exact same thing. We think, “Okay I don’t fit this particular piece. Maybe I don’t fit in the traditional ministry roles. But I’m going to push myself and I’m going to try and make myself fit into this piece that isn’t really meant for me.” And I want you to know that if you haven’t found that particular place where you fit, that doesn’t mean that you’re not called. That means that you just haven’t found it yet. So it takes, really takes a mind set shift to say, “You know what, I know that no matter where I’m at, I have a circle of influence. I have people around me that I can impact for the Kingdom of God.” Maybe you are a stay at home mom, and you are just with littles all the time all day, that is one of the biggest mission fields you could ever have. You can impact their lives at such a young age, and we don’t have to wait, I mean you can be teaching your children about God from the time that they, the day they are born.

Maybe you are in the business sector like I am. My husband and I have come to see our business as our ministry. We employ several people. We have over a dozen people right now working for us, and it’s a ministry for us. Anytime that we can tell an individual that we’re praying for them or if we have an employee that has had a difficult time and we’re able to bless them, we let them know, “Look this is the Lord. The Lord has blessed our business, and we want to bless you the same way.” You know being able to hire people and tell them, “You know what, this is a Christian atmosphere,” and it’s in the secular business world. And we can use it as a ministry. And see ladies it’s, this is really important because Jesus is coming back really soon, and the Bible says that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. And the truth is that many of us, we’re just on a break, and we’re not back at work, we’re not punched in because we think that, there’s nothing we can do.

Sometimes, we put so much pressure on our pastors, to say, “Well, you know what, my friend is sick, can you go pray for her,” or just different things, and yeah pastors are happy to do those things, but you can do those things. You are in full time ministry. If you have asked the Lord into your life and you are following him wholeheartedly, then there’s people you can reach that you would not be able to reach otherwise. There’s people above you that you can reach out to, to get training from. And then there’s people that you can mentor. People who you can come alongside and help them forward. And a lot of times, another way that we can kind of stop ourselves from being considered as a full time minister, is because of the things that we’ve done in our past or the things that have happened to us in our past.

And I saw a quote on Pinterest that has always stuck with me, and that is, “You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.” I love that, because what that says is, the things that you are going through have a purpose, and the things that you’ve been through have a purpose. And whenever you are struggling through something and whenever you are, it feels like you’re suffering through something, that doesn’t mean that God is mad at you or doesn’t mean that he is trying to punish you, but sometimes what that means is, he trusts you enough to use what you’ve been through, to reach somebody else. Because I guarantee no matter what place you are in your life, there’s someone who’s going to be going through what you just conquered. So if you don’t step into that mindset of, “You know what? I’m in ministry.”

There are people I can reach, whether it’s my family, or whether it is my co-workers, or that woman down the street, or my neighbor, or the shut in that’s there, or people at the hospital, whatever it is, you have a calling on your life, and next week we’re going to be talking a little bit more about the passions that God has put in your life and the purpose he has for them, but first I just want you to know, a lot of times it just takes thinking, you know, shifting our thinking to say, “You know what, it’s not the pastor’s job to reach my friend, it’s my job.” And so we can reach so many more people whenever we just step out of our comfort zone and say, “You know what? I’m called to this family. I’m called to this area. I’m called to this community. I’m called to this workplace,” because we all are in full time ministry.

It has nothing to do with getting paid or not getting paid, or if you have another job on top of it. What that means is, you have, you are a puzzle piece, and where you fit is right where you are. Right where you are, the people that are around you, the circumstances that you’re in. You can find a way to be a blessing to other people. You can find a way to be an encouragement to other people, and you know there’s a perfect example of this, ’cause sometimes we think, I don’t have the qualifications or I don’t have the skill set, but being a blessing to somebody can really shine in a lot of different places. So for instance, I have a friend who had a friend whose washer and dryer broke. And my friend said, “You know what?” She told her friend, “Just come over. Come over, do your laundry at my house. We’ll have a cup of coffee, we’ll chat,” and she was able to minister to this woman by using her washing machine. So there’s no excuse for not using what you have to benefit the Kingdom.

You know there is verses in the gospels that talk about the parable of the talents and that story is about, that Jesus is sharing about men who were given something. So the first person, you know, was given a certain amount of talents, a certain amount of money. And then the second one was given a smaller amount, and the third one was given even smaller amount. And what they, they were responsible for what they did with what they were given. So, you might think, “You know what, I can’t speak in front of people. I’m not a pastor, so I’m not in full time ministry, I’m not going to be in ministry.” So what do you have in your hand? What can you use? Maybe you have a washing machine. Maybe you are a great cook and you can go and give food to new moms and help them out, or maybe you are a young woman and you can go and babysit for a single mom who has to work a second job.

Whatever it is, whatever’s in your hand, you can use it for the Kingdom. And I guarantee you that whenever you use what little you have in your hand, God will multiply it. Because at the end of that parable, Jesus said, “Whoever is given much and whoever uses what they’ve been given, will be given even more.” So the one that, the man that had the five talents, the five pieces of money, was given more because he used it. That’s all God asks us to do. He doesn’t say, “Wait until you have tons of money to give to the mission builder.” He doesn’t say, “Wait until you have a huge home so that you can bring people in a let them eat.” He doesn’t say anything like that. He says, “Use what you have, be faithful with what you have, and then you will be given more.”

So I wanted to share really quick on that topic because this year, I have been focusing on a specific word, and my focus word came from a verse in Luke, chapter 16, verse 10, and it says, “Whoever is faithful with little will also be faithful in much.” And so my word, the word that I’m focusing on this entire year in my own personal heart and life, is the word faithful. And this goes right along with being in full time ministry, because if you’re faithful in little, God will be faithful to give you more, because he knows that if you’re faithful with a little bit, that you’ll be faithful with a lot. So remember that whenever you’re thinking about, “Well, you know I’m not, I don’t work at the church, I’m not a leader anywhere,” you are. You can change your mindset and say, “You know what, I’m in full time ministry right where I am. I have people that I can reach that my pastor can’t reach. I have people who are right here that missionaries across the globe can’t reach.”

And so as you are faithful to minister to the people that he’s given you, the people in your life, then he’ll send you more. He’ll extend your influence with other people on your circle of influence. I want you to know though, that no matter what, God is always faithful and he is faithfu;l to talk to you, and to guide you to know who you’re supposed to reach, because I know it can be kind of tough to say, “Oh I want to do what God wants me to do, but I’m not sure what he wants me to do.” Just talk to him. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you. And I will show you great and mighty things that you do not know.” And a great mentor of mine told me that this is God’s phone number. Because he says if you call to me, I will answer and I will show you things that you wouldn’t otherwise know. So if you are ever in a place where you feel like, “Man I really want to do God’s will, I really want to reach out, I’m willing to get out of my comfort zone. I just don’t know how.” That’s what you do. You talk to him and he will be faithful to answer.

So I am looking forward to talking to you guys next week. We’re going to be diving in deeper into this topic, this February topic of You Are Called. And we’re going to be talking about how God has a purpose for the passions that he’s put into your life. I’ll see you soon!

Thanks for listening today. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, head over to iTunes and leave a review, because every rating and review that listeners like you leave on iTunes helps other women find this podcast and discover how they can live their lives with grace. Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there. If you have a question or comment about this episode, then go ahead and send me an email to [email protected] or you can connect with me over on Facebook or Instagram. I’d love to hear from you. Until then, I’ll see you next week.


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