Included in God’s Toolbox

From Paul Tripp Ministries


Sam called me in a panic.

Sam was a member of the church I was pastoring many years ago. He was a godly man, a good husband and father, a hard-working employee, and a regular volunteer in the activities of our church.

One of Sam’s friends (a brother in Christ, but not a member of our church) had just called him, also in a panic. Sam’s friend was going through a very challenging season in his marriage, and his wife had just asked him to leave.

Sam, trying to support this couple, contacted me, his pastor, for help. After all, ministers, elders, and full-time church employees are the spiritual experts and paid professionals, right?

“Paul, can I bring my friend to your house so you can counsel him?” Sam asked.

Before Sam could say anything else, I replied, “Isn’t God’s love amazing? God cares about this man and put one of his children—you—in his life. God also cares about you, Sam, and has given you an opportunity to be an instrument in his hands.”

The phone went quiet. So I continued, “I am persuaded that God never gets a wrong address, and he intends to use you in this man’s life. Let me pray for you right now, that God will fill your mind with his wisdom and your mouth with his words.”

When I finished praying, Sam started to object, “But Paul, I don’t think I am able…”

I interrupted, “I will continue to pray for you tonight, and I will call you in the morning. I am so encouraged by your ministry to this man!” I said goodbye and hung up the phone.

Does this story make you anxious? How could I, as his pastor, abandon Sam during this moment?

Well, of course, I would never abandon Sam. Throughout the process, I stood alongside him, but determined not to take over for him, as he learned how to help his desperate friend.

I wanted to push Sam out of his comfort zone, but not because he lacked compassion, life experience, or biblical wisdom. No, Sam lacked courage and a practical understanding of God’s redemptive model.

The model is simple: No one has been chosen by God just to be a recipient of the redemptive work of his kingdom; no, everyone who has been chosen to be a recipient has also been commissioned to be an instrument of the work of that kingdom as well.

You may recall that to start the year, Wednesday’s Word was focused on this same principle—but with the application on evangelism and being a light in your neighborhood to the lost.

This time, for the next several months, we’ll apply the same principle to your relationships within the body of Christ and the opportunities God gives you for discipleship.

What would you do if you were in Sam’s shoes? If a friend came to you in a crisis, would you feel equipped to minister to them and provide biblical counsel?

Or would your immediate instinct be to contact a “paid ministry professional”?

Of course, God raises up particular people for formal ministry roles, and there are urgent times of crisis that require professional intervention. But that’s not what is needed the majority of the time, in the mundane moments of everyday life and discipleship ministry.

Too many Christians think, like Sam, that the help and counsel your brothers and sisters in Christ need are beyond what you could offer.

Too many of us believe that God’s toolbox for his redemptive work is very selective, limited to just pastors, elders, biblical counselors, and ministry leaders.

On the contrary, God’s toolbox is vast beyond comprehension. A successful carpenter uses many instruments, each designed for a particular job. And in God’s redemptive toolbox, the principal instruments are his ordinary children.

When you envision your participation in God’s work of sanctifying grace, are you limiting your role to merely saying a passive prayer, making a meal, and casually volunteering in a church activity?

When God calls you to himself, he also calls you to be a ready, active, and effective instrument in his redeeming hands.

A Prayer for Today: Lord, would you use me in whatever capacity you want to in your Kingdom’s work? Would you make my heart willing and expectant to be utilized as an instrument in your redemptive toolbox to lead others in the discipleship ministry moments of everyday life? In Jesus’ name, amen.

God bless,

Paul David Tripp



Discussion Prompt for Children

When it comes to creating a beautiful painting, do you think the paintbrush or the one holding the paintbrush (the artist) is more important? No matter how “normal” we might feel we are, can God still use us to help others know him better? How?

Reflection Questions

1. Why do you think it’s so easy to relegate ministry responsibilities or discipleship to people who are categorized selectively as pastors, elders, biblical counselors, or ministry leaders? If you don’t fall into one of these specific categories, why do you think it’s easy to believe that your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are beyond what you could offer when it comes to discipleship? Have you ever personally thought or felt that way about yourself? Why?

2. Would you say that you’ve spent a large percentage of your Christian life as someone who has been just a recipient of God’s redemptive work and not necessarily an instrument of the work of his kingdom? If so, why do you think that is?

3. When it comes to being a part of God’s redemptive work in the body of Christ, would you say that you struggle with lacking courage to be an instrument in his hands? Would you say you lack a practical understanding of how God uses people just like you? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these, why do you think that is? What kinds of changes can you make in your day-to-day life that might allow you to be more willing and available to be used by God?

4. When you envision your participation in God’s work of sanctifying grace, how does it go beyond merely saying a passive prayer, making a meal, or casually volunteering in a church activity?

Included in God’s Toolbox

New Hope Presbyterian Church Bridgeton, NJ

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