By Alicia Wilson
MTS Student (Class of 2019), McMaster Divinity College
When I trace back the steps that led me to seminary and into ministry, I am acutely aware that it was far less directed by my pursuit of ministry and far more a result of God’s pursuit of me. I began seminary envisioning that I would be pursuing some type of a youth ministry/ counselling role. Over the years (I took the pace of a tortoise rather then the hare), God began to shape a vision for a ministry that was extremely different than I first imagined when entering seminary. I envisioned a ministry of running crazy youth games, having coffee dates with struggling teens, and preaching to short-attention-spanned, squirmy junior highs. Instead my ministry is filled with power tools, navigating communication with individuals who can barely talk at times, and restoring thrown-away junk into beautiful pieces of home décor. God has slowly equipped me to start a non-profit called Restoration Project, which teaches woodworking skills to adults with developmental disabilities using reclaimed materials–all in the hopes of, in a small way, reflecting the restorative nature of God and a glimpse of the kingdom of God.
In the process of being at McMaster Divinity College and starting Restoration Project, I feel that God has given me a new understanding of righteousness. For a long time, I saw righteousness as a prerequisite for ministry. It was a list of dos and don’ts or a standard that I was supposed to be living up to. The problem was that this standard often felt like an unattainable moving bar that I could never reach, which led to emptiness. Yet Jesus was promising a blessing to be filled for those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness. What I realized was that I was chasing a façade of righteousness. I was chasing righteousness outside of relationship. I was striving for obedience out of legalism rather then relationship. The righteousness Jesus desires us to thirst after is the resolve to pursue the previous three beatitudes—poverty, mourning and meekness. Righteousness is the lifeline God has given so that each one of us moves away from ourselves and our own desires and moves towards God.
This is the very gift of ministry. My ministry in Restoration Project is a gift that in so many ways I don’t deserve. I would guess that very few of us are righteous enough to be entrusted with the gift of ministry and yet God gives it anyway. The most incredible thing is that, if we allow it, God can use our inadequacies for ministry to draw us out of ourselves and into deeper relationship with him. That is the gift of being filled with his spirit and quenches our hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Alicia Wilson is currently studying her Master of Theological Studies and will graduate in 2019. Alicia is also the founder of Restoration Project, a non-profit that teaches woodworking skills to adults with developmental disabilities to help them become independent artisans.
One thought on “A Reflection on Ministry and Righteousness”
Thank you, Alicia. It is challenging to live in righteousness in relationship. You are so right that we generally see goodness as things we do or don’t do out of legalism rather than in loving relationship. It is so much easier to rely on rules to establish markers for maturing Christians. May you continue to know God’s leading and strength in your work and in your relationships.