Criticizing and complaining are perhaps the most skilled first-responders to church ministries. But that was not the case with the Apostle Paul and the believers who served in the many ministries begun by him. As a travelling missionary Paul had planted many churches, mission initiatives from those churches, and ministries within those churches. But the work of ministry was rightly so (Eph 4:11-12) not done by him but by the saints who shared the same exuberance in ministry as he had demonstrated.

To the Philippians Paul wrote about his attitude towards all the new ministry opportunities that faced him, and added a point of instruction for those in the church who faced their own church ministry opportunities.

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:17-18 (ESV)

Ministries, especially in missions, requires a vast amount of pouring out all of yourself for a little bit of spiritual fruit in another. But Paul insisted on continuing in it for the sake of the saints. They key though, was not his perseverance in the task, but his joy in the task. His anticipation of the joy of seeing the Lord work in the lives of others motivated his labours.

And then he adds, “likewise you also should”. You and I might not have the mission opportunities of the Apostle Paul, but we likewise should have that eagerness of participation in our local churches.

The simple words “joy” and “glad” must be the names of the first-responders within every Christian over any act of labour that can be done for the spiritual benefit of those in our churches. It is when we mature our service to one another that the church matures (Eph 4:16).