“But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ.15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Cor. 10:13-18)
Every one of us Christians is in ministry. Without exception. We may not all be formally ordained or have a huge following of some kind, but God does not define ministry in this way. First, He gives you Christ. Second, He assigns an area of influence to you, and third, He asks that you use your influence to increase the faith of those in your area so that your area of influence may grow and others’ faith may be increased as well. This is what Jesus meant when he talked about us going to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and even to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). We begin in one area of influence and as the faith of the people there increases our area of influence is greatly enlarged “so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond [them].” (v. 16)
So, look around you. What are the areas of influence that God has assigned to you?
…Wait. You don’t have one?
Are you sure?
Do you have a family?
How about a Facebook account?
Or a little league baseball team that you coach?
Maybe you have a business partner, a client list, or employees?
Perhaps your area of influence is a neighbor, a best friend, or the hobo you always see on the street corner.
The list could go on and on.
The point is: we are all in ministry. And the areas of influence that God has assigned to us are plural, not singular, in nature.
We are called to be a gospel people in each of these areas, teaching all that Christ commanded us so that the faith of others grows, our territory expands (1 Chron. 4:10) and we make disciples of all nations.
Such a perspective may be a different way of looking at your life and admittedly there are traps along the way. Therefore it is helpful to use the above passage as a helpful model in praying for your ministry, whatever your area(s) of influence may be.
1) Focus on the area of influence God has assigned to you
2) Ask that God will prevent you from overextending yourself or boasting as though you reached those you have not reached with the Gospel.
3) Ask that God will greatly enlarge the people’s faith so that your area of influence may also expand, so that you may be able to preach the gospel in other lands beyond the original people or group God assigned to you.
4) Pray that as you grow you will be humble, not taking credit for the work others have already done in those lands but boasting in only what the Lord does through you in those new places.
5) Earnestly pray that your only boast be boasting in the Lord, both for the willing and the doing of the work.
6) Ask that you will not be approved because you commend yourself (i.e., clever marketing or prideful boasting in how you have used your talents) but because God commands you. Let the whole work, the spreading of the Gospel, the preaching, the expansion, and the approval be God-centric. “For it is God who works in you, BOTH to will AND to work for his good pleasure.” (Php. 2:13)
Remember, God gives you authority in the areas of influence He has assigned to you in order to build up, not tear down, someone’s faith (2 Cor. 13:10). Now go, asking God to answer this one question through you: How can I build up someone’s faith in my areas of influence today?