Years ago when I heard the word ministry, my mind conjured up visions of priests and nuns, Billy Graham and Oral Roberts. Yes, I thought of the famous Protestant preachers as well. My understanding of the word was one of vowed life, religious women and ordained men.
Now I hear that word all over the place ~ ~ the ministers of music, the ministers of the Word, the ministers of the Eucharist, minister of this, minister of that. Whose ministry is it anyway? And what is the ministry?
Ministry is what you do when you look upon someone with love, it is what you do when you listen without judging, it is what you do when you reach out beyond yourself for the good of the other. Ministry is more than standing at a pulpit preaching the Word of God. It is a life lived in the fullness of the Spirit of God.
I think the mistake I made is believing that only ordained men and religious women have a ministry. I failed to realize that the good we do is ministry.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word ministry thus:
2. the office, duties, or functions of a minister
3. the body of ministers of religion: clergy
4. a person or thing through which something is accomplished: agency, instrumentality
5. the period of service or office of a minister or ministry
6. a. the body of ministers governing a nation or state from which a smaller
b. the group of ministers constituting a cabinet
7. a. a government department presided over by a minister
b. the building in which the business of a ministry is transacted.
Interestingly though the synonyms are: agency, instrument, instrumentality, machinery, means, medium, agent, organ, vehicle.
There is only one antonym to ministry: laity. . . . . .? What?
Wow! Where do I go from here? So, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary laity is an antonym for ministry.
And again, from the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus the definition is thus:
Definition of MINISTRY
1 something used to achieve an end <I don’t care by what ministry it’s accomplished, so long as it’s done>
Synonyms agency, instrument, instrumentality, machinery, means, medium, ministry, organ, vehicle
Related Words determinant, expedient, factor, influence, ingredient, mechanism, tool; weapon; activator, animator, catalyst, driver, energizer, executor, generator, impetus, incentive, inspiration, instigation, instigator, launcher, mover, power, stimulus, trigger; antecedent, cause, occasion, reason; subagency, subagent
2 the group ordained to perform clerical functions in the Christian church <the ranks of the ministry have dwindled considerably in recent years>
Synonyms church, cloth, first estate, ministry, spirituality, spiritualty
Related Words diaconate, episcopate, hierarchy, presbytery; clerkship, monkhood, priesthood
Antonyms laity ~ HUH???
When I checked the Thesaurus for the word Laity this is the response I got:
The word you’ve entered isn’t in the thesaurus.
Now when I look up the word Laity in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary this is the definition:
Definition of LAITY
1: the people of a religious faith as distinguished from its clergy
2: the mass of the people as distinguished from those of a particular profession or those specially skilled
Examples of LAITY
a member of the laity
The laity has played an important role in the history of the church
OK, OK, enough!!! I choose to believe and know that whatever you do for God, whatever you do for your fellow human being in love is ministry. . .we are all ministers of the love of God! So, go forth and minister. . .Now and forever!
Sandy Ozanich (c) June 2013