Jesus-Directed Rather than Need-Driven Life and Ministry

Jesus was Not Need Driven
Obvious in the pages of the Gospels are the rampant needs around Jesus. Everywhere he went, there were people with needs. So too for us. Yet it is clear that needs were not the driving force in Jesus’ life. And it must not be a driving force in ours, or we will soon be depleted. So what was Jesus’ driving force?

Jesus Responded to His Father, Not Needs
A careful reading of the gospels shows that Jesus was not self or need-determining. In John 5 he twice said, “I can do nothing on my own (verses 19 and 30).” He said that he was keenly aware that the Father loved him and showed him what he (i.e. the Father) was doing. And that is what Jesus did (See John 5:19-30, for example). His gaze was fixed on his Father.

A culminating statement is found in John 14:31, “The world must learn that I love the Father and do only what he has shown me to do.” Principle: Direction flowing from relationship.

Where is our Gaze Directed?
We can be need informed, but not need driven. If we are driven by the needs around us, it will lead us to unhealthy places. Jesus did what his Father showed him to do in the midst of their communion. Jesus said he and the Father are one, the Father in him and he in the Father.  So Jesus’ gaze was always fixed on the Father. The Father loves the Son and delighted to show him what to do.

Then, Jesus turned to us and said, “As for me so for you.” Jesus told us we are one with him, “I am in you and you are in me.” Jesus reminds us that we can do nothing without him (John 15:3-5). We are invited to abide in Jesus. The love the Father has for the Son, is now imparted to us. Principle: Direction flowing from relationship.

A Picture of How this Might Work
Obviously, this can not be detailed in such a short space. Yet, we can identify a few principles.

1. Ministry Effort Focus: God has shown each of us how he has designed us – gifts, skills, interests, and passions. For example, you won’t find me speaking at many MK/TCk events. I am simply not wired, nor informed, nor specialized in my training to this group of people. Are there needs there? Absolutely. But God has prepared others for that.

What is it that God has placed in you that burns in you? Who do you sense God has asked you to give your life to? Focus there. Yet, even within that focus there are still too many people with too many needs. Who will you say yes to and who will you say no to? And how will you know?

Principle: Focus your Efforts in God-Directed Arenas

2. Direction flows from Relationship: Yet, in the end this is not merely about analysis. It is about relationship. God invites us to draw close to him, to listen, to watch and all this involves waiting. He seeks to slow us down that we may turn toward him. As we respond to him over time, his guidance will become more clear.

Principle: All of our care to others flows out of our union with Christ. Abide. How are you allowing God to nurture your communion with him that he may direct your steps?

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5 Responses to Jesus-Directed Rather than Need-Driven Life and Ministry

  1. Bob says:

    Can we be so engaged with the Father (as Jesus was) that the peripheral yet integral life challenges which we are not gifted or “wired” for, such as partnership development, will not disturb our peace, general “rest”, or physical sleep, in the midst of fulfilling our calling and passion?
    What might I/we be missing in this ever deepening relationship, if this is not the case presently?
    Or is it, as I suspect, simply as stated, an “ever deepening relationship” in which we must grow year by year, while walking through the struggle?


    • Scott S says:

      Bob, Thanks so much for the comment and thoughtful questions. You are onto something worthy of lengthy pondering. When Jesus said, “My peace I give unto you… (John 14:27), he was not only offering us an inner experience. He was offering himself. He is Peace. Peace is a Person. Ideally, as we are drawn into him we experience that peace and other truths more and more. Yet, there is a danger to over-spiritualize. The paradoxical reality is that we live in a fallen world and their will always be a sense of angst as we slog through life realities of failing health, financial challenges, relational strife and our own sense of “not enough” to name but a few trials. Thus, your last question states it well: “… an “ever deepening relationship” in which we must grow year by year, while walking through the struggle.” The only word I might change is “must.” God grows us as we respond to him. I cannot grow my own spiritual depth. I am transformed by him as I abide in him.

      Thanks again for the well stated thoughts. Much to reflect on here.



      • Bob says:

        Excellent word, Scott. And yes, “must” was a poor word choice.
        I’m more than grateful for His living Word and ever-present Spirit, constantly leading, guiding, and changing us, as we depend upon them and open ourselves to them. As well, I’m glad our Father didn’t place us here alone, but has given us companions on the journey, that we might affirm and reassure one another through the challenges, that we are indeed on His highway. (Is. 35)


  2. Tim Kangas says:

    Thanks for this Scott. Great stuff.



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