Chapter 1 -Calling
A call to the gospel ministry is
a uniquely personal call. It must come only from Christ. It includes three distinct
A Personal Call From Christ
Ministry a privilege. Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is the highest privilege
and the most fascinating adventure ever given to human kind. "The greatest
work, the noblest effort, in which men can engage is to point sinners to the
Lamb of God. True ministers are colaborers with the Lord in the accomplishment
of His purposes" (Gospel Workers, p. 18). Henry Ward Beecher said it well:
"Working for men! There is nothing so congenial. It is the only business
on earth that I know of, excepting the mother's business that is clean
all the way through; because it is using superior faculties, superior knowledge,
not to take advantage of men, but to lift them up and cleanse them, to mould
them, to fashion them, to give them life, that you may present them before God"
(Lectures on Preaching, p. 48).
Ministry a divine appointment.
"God has a church, and she has a divinely appointed ministry"
(Testimonies to Ministers, p. 52). You may choose a profession but the ministry
cannot be invaded that way, for the ministry is more than a profession; it is
a calling. "And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called
by God, just as Aaron was" (Heb. 5:4).
The true minister for God is not self-called. As with
the apostle Paul, the initiative is not the individual's, but the Lord's.
Paul did not choose; God chose. Paul's choice was whether or not to respond
to God's choice. His testimony: "He counted me faithful, putting
me into the ministry" (1 Tim. 1:12). (See also Isa. 6 and Jeer. 1.)
A call to the gospel ministry is a call to be not a
sociologist or a public performer, but an ambassador for Christ A call to anything
less is not a call to the ministry. This call demands a full-time, life-consuming
Question your call unless you feel that in any other
work, no matter how large the salary, the job would seem too small. As Martin
Luther counseled: "Lest thou art called, avoid preaching as thou wouldst
hell." Christ has a work for you, a plan for your life. If you're
in the wrong place, not only will you fill it poorly, but the right place is
A Personal Relationship
Jesus "called to Him those He Himself wanted.
And they came to Him" (Mark 3:13). Christ called they came. The
early apostles were successful in inviting others to come to Christ, because
they themselves had already come. You cannot bring until you have been brought.
To give others what you yourself do not have is an impossible and frustrating
task. And after the disciples came, they spent the next three years in an intimate,
everyday relationship with Christ. Only then were they prepared to minister
Saul saw a vision of Christ on the Damascus road and
it caused him to ask, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" (Acts 9:6).
He was ready for ministry only after catching a vision of Christ. Young ministers
sometimes seem to catch a vision of themselves: as sanctified divines, as powerful
preachers, as leaders of adoring congregations. Stay away from the ministry
unless you catch a vision of Christ. Your power in appealing to human hearts
will be in proportion to your fellowship with Him.
Serve as He served.
An intimate relationship with Christ motivates us to live as He lived.
To live as He lived means living to serve as He served. Jesus lived to bless
others. He lived to love. Too many choose the ministry because they live to
be loved. We are all born selfish, and it's possible to get into the ministry
for selfish reasons, but it's practically impossible to stay in. successful
ministry follows the motto of John the Baptist: "He must increase, but
I must decrease" (John 3:30). When our selfishness decreases, our relationship
with Christ will increase.
"Those who have the deepest experience in the
things of God are the farthest removed from pride and self-exaltation. Because
they have an exalted conception of the glory of God, they feel that the lowest
place in His service is too honorable for them" (Gospel Workers, p. 142).
To enjoy serving is to enjoy the ministry. One lifelong
pastor expressed it this way: "This business of helping other people become
better people by bringing them closer to God is the most exciting, the most
stimulating, the most challenging, the most rewarding work in the world, and
quitting it Ministers however, must not feel that gospel ministry somehow makes
them more important than others or that it is the only vocation to which people
are "called." The most important work for an individual is whatever
work God asks that person to do. The grandest work in the world is the work
of service, and God calls all every member of every congregation to
some ministry of service.
Sacrifice as He sacrificed.
To live as Christ lived means to sacrifice as He sacrificed. Anyone
near Jesus will be near the fire. The demands of the gospel ministry are many.
The burdens are immense
often more than one person can bear. The life of ministry is a life of hard
work and sacrifice. Scripture counsels, "Therefore take heed to yourselves
and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to
shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts
20:28). When sheep are crossing the road, shepherds don't sit in the shade
and say, "Look out, sheep, here comes a truck." They jump out in
the road waving their arms. They hold up their hands offering themselves.
They're the first to get run over.
And ministers are called
pastors shepherds. A Personal Empowering by Christ Ministers need
many gifts: moral earnestness, leadership, intelligence, common sense, relational
skills, and teaching ability. If you lack these, you should probably question
whether or not your call has really come from Christ. Those who are truly called
by Christ will be empowered by Christ. Paul proclaimed, "And I thank Christ
Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me
into the ministry" (1 Tim. 1:12). Whomever Christ calls He enables. He
does not call to failure. He has provided or will provide everything you need
to succeed at whatever He has called you to do. "Those who consecrate body,
soul, and spirit to God will constantly receive a new endowment of physical,
mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their
command. Christ gives them the breath of His own Spirit, the life of His own
life. The Holy Spirit puts forth His highest energies to work in heart and mind.
The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection
of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving
souls. Through cooperation with Christ they are made complete in Him, and in
their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence"
(Gospel Workers, pp 112 113)
About The Author
Published by the General Conference Ministerial Association