Pray-ers, and Play-ers
Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Ministries Director
There was a time in Christianity when there was a clear divide
between the professional clergy and the laity -- the priests and the people. The
prevailing paradigm was that the people gave their money in the offering on Sunday,
and then the talented and God-ordained ministers did the work of preaching the
Gospel. Of course, this idea was utterly unbiblical.
The New Testament
makes it clear that we are all ministers before God:
are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people,
that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His
marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
Now all things
are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given
us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling
the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed
to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
is not the role of the professional clergy, priests, or ministers to exclusively
do the work of the ministry -- that is the duty and privilege of every believer.
The leadership of the church is called to equip these believers to do God's work
on the earth:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some
prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of
the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till
we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians
Once a Christian has the revelation that they are
God's ministers there is often the assumption that this means they have three
vocation choices in life; pastor, Bible school teacher, or missionary. Now God
does call some people into these full time vocations, but He doesn't require that
of everyone. God gifts his people in different ways for different reasons. You
can serve God mightily in the role of a pastor or missionary, but you can serve
him just as well -- or maybe even greater -- in another vocation, if that is what
He has called you to.
When we get to heaven and stand before God at the
judgement seat, He will not say to us, "Well done, you were just as good a missionary
as Praying Hyde" or "Well done, you were just as good of an evangelist as Billy
Graham" or "You took care of the poor just like Mother Teresa." No, when we stand
before God, we will be judged by whether we obeyed His will for our lives, not
If God says, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant,"
it will be because you allowed Jesus to be Lord over your entire life, and you
followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.
When we come to an understanding
that we are called to minister for God in whatever job or role He assigns us in
life, we can then examine the idea that there are basically three divisions of
those roles. I call them pay-ers, pray-ers, and play-ers.
what these rolls are.
The people that I call pay-ers
are those who God gifts to make money to fund the work of the Kingdom. Those who
are pray-ers are intercessors who have a burden for the work of the Kingdom. Finally,
those who are play-ers are the ones who physically preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.
I deliberately put play-ers at the end so that we can first adjust our
thinking regarding pay-ers and pray-ers.
I have a friend who owns a successful
business. God has blessed this man and has given him a gifted mind in his technical
field. He is also a very talented businessman. He understands the stock market.
He knows how to raise capitol, and how to distribute his funds frugally to cover
his costs while also carving out a reasonable amount for profit. The Lord has
given him wisdom in hiring the right people, purchasing the right equipment, securing
a modern facility, building relationships with customers, and meeting the needs
of his clients.
Now this man has the intelligence to make a very successful
pastor or Bible teacher. But God has called him to the business that he is in,
and has blessed him with the ability to make money in that business. My friend
has also had the revelation that God has blessed his business so that he can be
a blessing to others -- and particularly to Kingdom causes. Over the years this
man and his wife have given above their tithes to their local church, and to ministries,
missions, and ministers as the Holy Spirit has lead them. The Bible mentions this
gifting in the book of Deuteronomy:
"And you shall remember
the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may
establish His covenant" (Deuteronomy 8:18).
God will bless
leaders with knowledge and creativity so that they can make wealth to fund ministry
endeavors. The writer of Proverbs declares, "I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and
find out knowledge and discretion" (Proverbs 8:12). The New King James translation
says that wisdom gives knowledge of witty inventions -- ideas that can generate
income to bless people, and to take the Gospel around the world!
are a businessman, a politician, or a leader of some kind and you have been feeling
guilty because you don't think you are effective for the Gospel in your business,
be encouraged. God may have called you into your area of expertise for the express
purpose of supporting ministry with your finances. Now that doesn't mean that
you can't get involved in sharing your faith, taking a short-term missions trip,
helping out at your local church, or serving the poor at a food pantry or shelter.
You should be involved in all of these things as the Lord leads. But be at peace
knowing that if God has called you to be a pay-er, you are a vital part of the
army of God in the world today.
of people are those who I call the pray-ers. These are the intercessors. These
folks are often in the background, quietly lifting up prayers and petitions before
the throne of God. Because the Bible tells us to pray privately, these folks don't
often shine as "leaders" in a church or ministry -- but they shine like stars
in the eyes of God.
It doesn't matter what kind of ministry that you are
a part of, prayer is the foundation upon which it will thrive. Prayer is like
the steel structure that undergirds a large building. Without people of faith
interceding for your ministry it will inevitably implode or explode in times of
The pray-ers recognize that God has called us to live
in vital union with him, and that He responds to those who cry out to Him for
His blessing, protection, direction, and wisdom. They know that apart from Him
we can do no good thing. Every ministry, large or small, is utterly dependent
on God every hour of every day. While there are those in that ministry who must
be about the daily business and maintenance of that work, there are also those
who are symbolically like Aaron and Hur who hold up the hands of Moses through
The pray-ers are the most overlooked and undervalued part
of most ministries -- and perhaps the most essential. It is the wise leader who
assembles a group of people around him or her personally, and around their ministry,
to lift prayers up before God on a daily, and an ongoing basis. Without these
prayer warriors there will always be opportunities for the devil to come in and
cause havoc in that church, mission, or outreach.
You may have felt bad
in the past about your role in the church because you did not hold any position
of prominence, or you were not able to give large financial gifts. Don't let the
enemy rob you of your joy, or of your great reward. Jesus spoke of the reward
that you will receive from heaven:
And when you pray, you shall
not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and
on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say
to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and
when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly (Matthew 6:5-6).
may be a homemaker, a diligent worker in some company, a secretary, an administrative
assistant, a grandmother or grandfather, a retiree, or a student. You may feel
like you don't have much to contribute in terms of talent or money. Take heart!
God may have called you to the greatest assignment of all -- the ministry of intercession.
Imagine the reward for the intercessor who prayed for John Wesley, or Charles
Finney, or for you!
When we get to heaven, I think the pray-ers are going
to be sitting in the best seats of all!
group is the play-ers -- these are the vocational ministers who give their lives
in service to the Lord. These are the Martin Burnhams, the Mother Teresas, the
Charles Parhams, and the T.L. Osbornes of this world. But they are also the unknown
and unnamed missionaries, Christian school teachers, home school parents, pastors,
elders, apostles, Bible college professors and administrators, evangelists, prophets,
para-church ministers, television evangelists, Internet evangelist, and more.
The list goes on and on.
They are people who have counted the cost, picked
up their cross, laid down their lives, and followed Christ no matter what is required
They too are heroes. They are the full-time professionals. But
their role is not just to perform to the delight of the paying public. That is
not the biblical model. While there are times when the play-ers will do the work
of the ministry, they should be equally concerned with perpetuating ministry through
others. They must energetically train the saints to do the work of the ministry.
only the play-ers did the work of the ministry -- as it is in some churches and
organizations -- then multitudes of people would never have the opportunity to
hear the Gospel message. Why? Because it is a mathematical impossibility. There
are not enough people in the full-time ministry to reach the millions of lost
people in the world -- even with the advent of modern modes of communication like
television, radio, and the Internet. It will take the entire Body of Christ, working
in unity and following the direction of Jesus to see the Great Commission accomplished.
The play-ers need the support of the pay-ers and the pray-ers in order
for their ministry to be effective. In fact, without the pay-ers and the pray-ers,
the players would be severely limited, if not completely constricted, from doing
what God has called them to do.
Now, I need to make one thing clear. In
a sense every Christian is called to be a pay-er, a pray-er, and a play-er. We
are all called to give of our tithes and offerings. God has called us all to commune
with Him in times of prayer, and to war in the Spirit through intercession. And
every one of us is called to share the good news of the Gospel with those that
God brings into our lives.
But every believer should ask God, "What
area should I give my full attention to -- am I a pay-er, a pray-er, or a play-er?"
When God answers that question, follow that course with all diligence, asking
the Lord to lead you and to bless the work of your hands.
whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from
the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord
Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).
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