And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, bu human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11-14, Emphasis added)
A couple of years ago, my wife and I went away together for a weekend to Knoxville, TN. While there, we went to a place called the Museum of Appalachia. It was an entire campus of buildings dedicated to the people, history arts, and crafts of the Appalachian Mountains, which is where my ancestors have called home since before the Revolutionary War. That’s right, I am a Hillbilly. Is anyone really surprised?
I loved this museum. There was one building in particular that I enjoyed most and it was dedicated to a man you’ve probably never heard of. His name was Harold Mayes.
As a young man, Mayes became ill to the point where the doctors had given up all hope of his recovery. In what he thought were his last moments, he cried out to God saying; “Lord, if you get me through this I will live for you for the rest of my life and I will spread your name everywhere I can.”
Miraculously, he recovered. True to his word, Harold Mayes dedicated his life to the service of the Gospel and did what he thought was the best thing, he decided to become a vocational minister.
His pastor gave him a chance to preach in his little country church but Mayes’ first sermon was an absolute disaster. Harold realized after that first Sunday that he was simply not gifted as a preacher, and that God had obviously not called him to serve Him in that way. The problem was that Mayes was still burning with a passion for the Gospel and a desire to make the message of Christ known.
Harold had always been gifted in working with his hands. So one day, he went out to his shop on his property and created a large cross made of concrete into which he carved Scripture verses that preached the Gospel of Christ. He then took that cross and placed it on the side of a stretch of road where people would see it as they passed by.
From that first cross, a life-long ministry was born. Harold spent the rest of his life making those crosses and placing them along the highways and byways of the American road system all over the country. He even made crosses that were to be set aside for the days when men and women colonized the moon. He wanted to make sure that the Gospel was preached everywhere. At one point, there were thousands of his crosses with the message of the Gospel all over the country. Perhaps you saw them in your childhood as you traveled with your family. Now, you know where they came from.
You may be wondering how Harold made a living. Simple, he did what he always did, he worked in the Appalachian coal mines. In fact, Mayes never accepted a single dime from anyone else for his work with the crosses. He paid for all of the materials and travel expenses out of his own pockets. He would often work two 12-hour shifts in the mines. He said that he worked “One shift for his family, and one for the Lord.”
Thanks to his disastrous sermon (he never preached another one) Harold Mayes came to understand something we often miss and that is that the ministry of the Gospel is not the “job” of the professional clergy, it is the calling of everyone who is a follower of Christ.
The clergy’s job is to prepare us to take the Gospel to our world in whatever ways we are gifted to do so. WE are the ones who are doing the work of the ministry. It’s up to us. Any pastor worth his salt will tell you that business people, teachers, homemakers, whatever, will take the Gospel farther than they ever will.
So let’s do it. Let’s do the work of the ministry. What does that mean for you? What is God calling you to do for Him?