When you hear the word deployment, you might typically think of a soldier getting sent away to serve his or her country. The basic definition of deployment is using something or someone in an effective way or movement of soldiers or equipment to a place where they can be used when they are needed.
Just as a soldier gets deployed to serve, when someone puts their faith in Jesus, they are eventually sent on a mission that is much greater than themselves. This does not mean everyone is destined to leave their home, move to a third world country, and dedicate themselves to mission work. This means that every believer has a distinct purpose over their lives, which they will use to advance and strengthen God’s Kingdom.
Once you have joined the discussion about Jesus, discovered who He is for yourself, and chosen to follow Him as a disciple, the next level of engagement is embracing deployment into the world for the sake of God’s Kingdom. Deployment goes hand in hand with discipleship, but deployment is where you go from simply following Jesus to inviting others to follow Him too. It is where you go out into the world, using your God-given gifts and servant leadership, to effect change in the world.
If we’re following the metaphor of being a “soldier” on behalf of the Kingdom of God, it is only right we discuss the ultimate necessity for our service: our armor. Ephesians 6 puts it this way:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Or for those of you who prefer lists, our armor consists of:
When you go into battle, the most important thing is to have the correct armor to protect yourself, your comrades, and fight the enemy. The stark reality is that when we choose to dedicate ourselves to Jesus, we begin fighting a battle with the spiritual forces of the heavenly realms. There is a real enemy of our souls whose greatest goal is to cause the church to crumble.
The enemy wants you to be complacent in your faith
The enemy wants your life to stay the same and never be transformed
The enemy wants you to forsake the church and never live the life God has called you to
Before we ever go to do the work of the Kingdom, we must clothe ourselves in the Armor of God. Without the belt of truth, we won’t know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus and the enemy can plague us with lies. Without the breastplate of righteousness, we won’t be sure of our righteousness in Jesus and the enemy can attack our hearts. If our feet aren’t fitted with the Gospel of peace, we won’t be able to share the Good News. Without the shield of faith, we will be exposed and the enemy can attack our faith and fill us with doubt. Without the helmet of salvation, our minds are exposed to the lies of the enemy. And without the sword of the Spirit, we cannot extinguish the enemy’s schemes and strongholds.
There is something we forget, however, when we discuss the armor of God. We forget about prayer.
Directly after this list, Ephesians 6:18 says this: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
The greatest weapon we have as we seek out to serve in the Kingdom is the power of our prayer. Prayer is our ultimate weapon because prayer is where we choose to trade our thoughts for God’s thoughts.
As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that — it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”
There is power in prayer and perhaps prayer is the greatest way we can serve the Kingdom of God. Oftentimes we can get so caught up in our serving, our programs, and our methods that we forget to pray. We make decisions and ask God to bless them instead of praying first to see if God wants us to do something in the first place.
When people enter into the level of engagement where they are deployed in the Kingdom's purpose, prayer and reliance on Jesus must be the center of all they do. If Jesus isn’t the main point, all of our serving is worthless. Paul puts it best this way:
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11
One of the greatest things about Jesus is that He is not some dictator-like God who demands to be followed and leads from a high pedestal. Jesus came not as a power-hungry, political war hero — Jesus came as a humble servant Who was meek and lowly in heart.
Philippians 2 goes into great detail about how to live and love like Jesus as we serve Him. Here are a few highlights:
This list may have stung just a bit. That is because, in some way or another, we have all failed at serving and leading the way we were meant to. It is because we often miss that the greatest leadership quality we can have is humility. But humility is so hard because to be prideful is our human nature.
Pride says “I can do this on my own. I know how to lead a ministry without anyone’s help. Why do I need to pray anyway?”
Humility says “I can’t do this on my own. I need to make serving more about people and less about tasks. I need Jesus every single moment of every day to do anything of value.”
To be humble means admitting you need Jesus, point-blank. Scripture says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble! Oftentimes we aren’t as “successful” in our ministries and serving because we are operating with pride in our hearts. Ouch.
To serve in the Kingdom means to serve with a heart of humility and to be a servant leader. This type of leadership means we do not just dictate people around us and lead from a high pedestal, it means we do life alongside people — right in the mud and muck of their struggles and sin. It wasn’t some sort of political power that made Jesus a great leader — it was His humility, empathy, and servant leadership that made Him the greatest leader of all time.
When we choose to model Jesus’ way of leadership, we will have a far greater impact in the world as we seek to bring people to know the goodness of God and “recruit” more disciples for Jesus.
When you step into the deployment aspect of engagement, this is truly where you become a “doer of the word” rather than just a hearer, as the Book of James puts it. This is where all of the things you know about Jesus are put into action and you begin to step into a new level of discipleship and service. The beautiful thing is that Jesus supplies all of our needs and equips us for the work of the ministry.
There are five major “roles” in ministry:
These specific gifts differ from other gifts of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Hospitality, healing, words of wisdom, miracles, etc.) and specifically exist to “equip the saints for service and building up of the Body of Christ” Ephesians 4:12. These 5 roles are often referred to as the Five-Fold Ministry.
Each and every believer in Jesus has a gift from the Holy Spirit, but not every person is gifted with the same gift. This is what makes the Body of Christ so important — we need each other! That is why the church is not just one person, it is a community of people who all work together to spread the Kingdom and make disciples of the nations.
One of the greatest joys in following Jesus is using the gifts He has given you to point people back to Him. As you grow in the love of God, you will begin to discover gifts from Him “who gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5) and whose "gifts and call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
The last level of engagement is not so much as the final step on a list, but the last aspect of the overall engagement cycle. As you step into a new level of leadership, you are compelled to not only engage more people but lead them to Jesus. This emphasis on relationships in the deployment level leads you right back to the start where you can use your gifts in media, teaching, writing, and more to engage those hungry for hope.
Engagement is not just a hot button concept that begins and ends with a few comments on a social media post. Engagement is a lifelong process that brings us to a place where we discover who Jesus is, go deeper in our relationship with Him, and invite others to do the same.
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