What Is The Meaning
of Love In Ministry?

In ministry...The meaning of love is not well defined. We know this because…the clinical record shows that loving one’s neighbor often means making love to one’s neighbor.

And so we abide by and ancient Aristotle quote to create definitions as a guide to thinking clearly about important matters…because his rule is still used today in science and philosophy.

On our homepage we defined ministry.

And  to understand the meaning of love in ministry…we also have to define love (using Aristotle’s rule, of course). So let’s give it a try…

Love is human action…

freely taken for the benefit of another…

regardless of the feelings of the lover…

or the loved one

But wait…how can you talk about love if feelings don’t matter?

It’s not that feelings don’t matter. They do matter a great deal.

  • ...You should love your work in ministry…
  • ...feel good about it…
  • ...feel hopeful about it…
  • ...and feel that you make a difference in people’s lives

It’s just that you can’t equate love with emotions.

Think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:37ff

  • ...He was sorrowful unto death…
  • ...he was lonely and disappointed that the disciples whom he loved were drowsy after their meal and could not remain awake with him…
  • ...he was terrified of what was going to happen to him…and prayed repeatedly to be freed from this covenant of love.

The meaning of love in Jesus’ ministry was a true ministry…a religious action of love to bring the people closer to God.

He performed the most loving action in history…despite his feelings.

Another example can be found in the life of Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

In her case...she continued her ministry of loving action at a time when she doubted the very existence of God. The meaning of love to her was clearly expressed by her religious ministry activities meant to bring people closer to God.

In a ministry of love…ministers who are doing authentic ministry perform those loving actions which sanctify them and the people. Even at times when…like Mother Theresa…they must go strictly on faith or…like Jesus…when they are afraid and lonely.

And it’s is during such down times that a minister might seek consolation in a form of "love" that has nothing to with ministry...nor with the meaning of love as we've defined it here for ministry.

So the meaning of love in ministry is really a decision…a decision to perform loving actions that bring both minister and people closer to God.

And those actions are carried out

  • ...when it all seems full of optimistic possibility and also when it all seems futile…
  • ...and when the Spirit seems very present in the congregation as well as when your congregation puts seemingly impossible demands on you…
  • ...and when it feels like God is very close as well as when it feels like he has left you all alone in your very own Garden of Gethsemane.

So by using the above definitions of ministry and love as you evaluate your ministry work…you can stay on course even if it is a stormy Monday morning…and the church roof is leaking…and the electricity is out…and you’re out of coffee…and you have a flat tire...and no one's affirmed you for weeks.

Using good definitions of what your work is about is one way to protect yourself from boundary violations. 

Another way is to subscribe to our monthly newsletter The Boundary Hunter.

You can go from the meaning of love back to sexual boundaries.

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