By Pastor Vinnie Cappetta
"Three Sentences That Shape My Ministry"
Pastor Joe asked me recently, “What three sentences have shaped your ministry?” Here are the first three that came to mind…
”Ministry is messy. The mess is not a small part of ministry but, in large part, the environment where the ministry takes place.”
When I think about the times that I have grown the most spiritually, I am drawn to the messiest moments of my life. The mess was fertile ground for God to grow me into a man after His own heart. I am afraid He still has a great deal of work to do with me.
As a preacher, I notice that people appreciate when I talk about the messiness of my life and where I see God at work in the mess. God has turned my mess into a message. His strength is revealed in my weaknesses.
When I think of the messiest moments of ministry the past 26 years, I see that God was at work in me and in others. When I saw messes, I wanted to run in the other direction, but God consistently nudged me to get closer to the messes because He intended to use them for good and He didn’t want me to miss an opportunity to grow and to help others grow.
”People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
I have three academic degrees on my wall along with multiple certificates for advanced trainings for counseling, but the people who come to talk to me about their deepest problems don’t care about all the knowledge I have accumulated. They want to know whether or not I care about what they are going through. They want to know if I will listen to what they are going through and point them to Jesus.
All of my training amounts to nothing if I do not love the person in front of me. God calls me to love and care first and then, and only then, can He use anything that I have learned to help the other person. I try to remind myself of this everyday. Why? Because if I don’t listen carefully to the other person’s story, I will likely misdiagnose the problem and offer him the wrong cure. Sometimes this means forcing myself to remain still and to ask good questions so that I can understand better before I share any ideas, thoughts or opinions. Often I find that God is working in the person’s life and they are able to hear God’s voice without me saying a word. Sometimes I see that part of my work as a helper is getting out of the way so that God can do His thing.
“Every moment of my life is an opportunity for God to get the glory.”
God reminds me of this when I try so hard in my own power to be helpful to other people. God has called me to depend solely on Him to be useful, but I am tempted to do my counseling work in my own strength. This is a spiritual battle that rages inside me everyday…this is spiritual warfare. The enemy loves it when I try to do spiritual things without acknowledging Christ.
When I catch myself acting this way, I repeat this prayer, “God, please get the glory in this person’s life and my interaction with him. Please relieve me of the pressure to perform and achieve a certain result. Take charge of this conversation and have Your way. This conversation is not about me…it is about You and for You…may you get the glory.”