10 Characteristics of a Ministering Heart

1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 

27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.  John 4:1-30 (ESV)

Enlarge your Heart

Those of us who claim the name of Christ must choose again and again between two very distinct courses. 

One is to cultivate a small heart. That is the safest way to go because it minimizes the sorrows of life. If our ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the formula is simple: minimize relationships and avoid ministry to others so that we will escape a multitude of heartache.

Cultivate deafness, and we will be saved from the discords of life. Cultivate blindness, and we will not see the ugly around us. This is how many people, even those who name the name of Christ, get through life with minimal heartbreak. They have cultivated smallness of heart.

But another path is also open to us—that of developing and embracing an enlarged heart—a heart where we open ourselves to others and become susceptible to the almost guaranteed heartache that a shriveled heart knows nothing about.

Enlarge and ennoble your life purpose through ministry to others and you will increase your vulnerability proportionately! 

Little hearts, though safe and protected, make little advance in the kingdom. On the other hand, ministering hearts, though vulnerable, are also the hearts that know the most joy and leave the largest imprint on the world. 

Cultivate a small heart, and you may have smooth sailing, but you will never know the heady winds of the Holy Spirit in your sails! You will never be borne along in power and exhilaration and will never see lives changed and great things happening for God.

The story of our Lord and the woman at the well gives us insight into the ministering heart. Consider the following characteristics of a ministering heart.

A Ministering Heart is…

  1. A Focused Heart (vv.1-5)
    • A ministering heart is focused and obedient to the Spirit’s leading.
  2. A Hearing Heart (vv.1-5)
    • A ministering heart listens and hears God through prayer, scripture and sabbath.
  3. A Doing Heart (vv.1-5)
    • A ministering heart is a serving heart.
  4. A Sacrificing Heart (v.6)
    • A ministering heart carries on even when at the edge of capacity!
    • We will never do great things for God until we have learned to minister when we are tired and are willing to sacrifice our life and time for the needs of others.
  5. An Overcoming Heart (vv.7-9)
    • A ministering heart overcomes racial and social barriers.
  6. A Satisfied Heart (vv.10-15)
    • A ministering heart is satisfied with Jesus alone.
    • A ministering heart knows where to find and is refreshed by “living water”.
  7. A Worshipping Heart (vv.19-24)
    • A ministering heart knows worship is a matter of the heart, not external actions, and is directed by truth rather than ceremony. True worship must bring us into the presence of God.
    • True worship is not about style…It’s about magnifying the greatness of God, entering into the presence of God and proclaiming the Gospel that all men might be saved.
    • Our worship of God is directed by our love for Him; as we love, so we worship. To worship God in spirit and truth necessarily involves loving Him with heart, soul, mind and strength.
  8.  A Believing Heart (vv.25-27)
    • A ministering heart believes and follows Jesus!
  9. A Generous Heart (v.28)
    • A ministering heart is a heart filled with generosity.
  10. A Loving Heart (vv.29-30)
    • A ministering heart loves God and others, makes disciples and lives sent!


  • What are my next steps in cultivating a ministering heart?
  • What is keeping me from serving others today?
  • Am I being generous or self-centered with my resources?
  • Am I satisfied with Jesus and my relationship with Him?
  • How am I worshipping Jesus in Spirit and Truth?