When someone tells us they feel called to ministry, we may quickly assume they are going to seminary to become a pastor, or, perhaps they are going into the mission field to serve in Africa or another remote part of the world. But in reality, we who are followers of Jesus Christ are all called to ministry. Does that surprise you?
You may be one who has given up hope on finding your place in God’s story. Don’t despair! God has not given up on you – He is patiently waiting for you to allow Him to fulfill your purpose in ministry, and when that happens, what joy will fill your soul. Proverbs 13:12 says, “A desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Imagine your life flourishing like a tree because you are fulfilling the desire of your heart – the ministry to which you have been called!
We see a false dichotomy between the secular and the sacred. Often men and women believe they can be successful in business or surrender their life to ministry, but certainly not both. However, God invites us to good works both in our vocation and in our ministry calling, and He equips and enables us to do both well.
God has given you unique gifts, talents, and passions for the two-fold purpose of edifying the Body of Christ and extending the Body of Christ. Your passion may be to help troubled teens within the church body, or in your neighborhood. Maybe your passion is to serve the homeless in a food line, or the disabled widow next door. When we consider that God has called each of us to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), we can better understand that our ministry is to bring people back to God, to one another, and to help them become the person God created them to be.
Because of our unique spiritual gifts, as discovered through The 210 Project, we may do similar good works of service, but in a different way, and perhaps with a different level of passion. But when we are serving out of our passion, engaging our spiritual gift, we are expressing our God-given design and living out the good works we were called to do. That is ministry!
For example, your passion for troubled teens may lead you to offer your time to teach a group from fatherless homes about God’s love and His truth that will help them make wise life choices. You may find you truly enjoy the time with the teens, but find it more rewarding to do life alongside them, living out God’s Word in love and deed, rather than through classroom instruction. Your close friend, on the other hand, who shares your same burden for troubled teens, has already researched the scriptures to find verses that have life application for teens. He has developed a teaching plan, including PowerPoint presentation and handout materials. He can’t stop thinking about ways to help the teens comprehend God’s Word and to apply His truth to their lives.
After seeing your friend’s passion and skill, you may feel less than adequate and determine that, perhaps, you aren’t called to help teens. But the reality may be that your unique gift is exhortation – that of encouragement and strengthening others; while your friend’s gift is teaching, in the truest sense of the word. God has prepared good works for both of you to do, in your own area of ministry, but with the same group of teens.
Your ministry of exhortation and your friend’s ministry of teaching may be used in various assignments throughout your lifetime, and you will know it when you experience it. As we are faithful in the opportunities God brings us, He will continuously bring more opportunities our way. Ministry is a course we follow our entire lives and our heart’s desire should be to finish the course well. As Paul writes near the end of his days, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) Finish well, my friend.
Carmen Pate is a Principal with Alliance Ministries. Learn more about The 210 Project at http://www.210project.com/