“Why did God call you into ministry?” He asked me, looking for the right answer, not a story. I had previously thought this question was easy, but now my answers seemed inadequate.
“God called me into ministry.” I started hesitantly, “Because he wanted me to serve and lead his people. He equipped me to bless his church.” That sounded right, it’s what I had thought.
My friend had different ideas. He reminded me, “God calls us to himself. His first call to everyone is to salvation.” He continued, “Every other call in our lives is in service to this call. God called you into ministry for your own salvation.” He’s right.
It’s a bit humbling to think you’re God’s gift to the church, only to find out that God’s church is a gift to you. This paradigm shift changed everything – changes everything. It changed the way I view interruptions. Instead of thinking, “I have important business to bless the church. How dare you interrupt!” I realize (on my good days) that this interruption is here, as God’s gift, to remind me of what’s important.
It changes how I stack chairs. This menial task is there to help whittle down my ego – one chair at a time.
This new perspective on ministry wrecked me. I realized that God didn’t call me into ministry because he knew I would be in church every Sunday. He called me into ministry because he knew I needed to be in church every Sunday! There’s a big difference.
Ministry has shaped me. It has helped me to work out or live out my own salvation like Philippians 2:12 says to do. It has forced me to weed out errant theology and opened my heart to be more gracious. Ministry has caused me to make better choices and try hard to live more consistently.
In desperation I have learned how to pray and read the Bible in new and life-giving ways. I have had to swallow my pride and say countlessly, “I don’t know,” and “I’m sorry.” God has grown my courage through speaking the truth.
Ministry has caused me to scrutinize my own private life in ways I know I wouldn’t have if I had done anything else.
In short, ministry forced me to be the Christian that God was calling me to be all along. The Christian I might have not become had I not been called to ministry.
I admire Christian businessmen and women. People who have deep faith while laboring in other fields. Believers who maintain a vibrant prayer life and run a restaurant. Christians who work on an assembly line and have a 24-7 genuine faith on display. These are the strong Christians. These are the advanced believers. I’m not sure I could do it…perhaps now, but not when I was younger. I needed the training wheels of ministry to stay the course, to fight the good fight, and to finish the race. I needed the structure of ministry and the pressure of it to be shaped into a faithful Christian. I needed ministry to be a Christian, but I guess that’s why God called me to it.
For further thought for those in ministry…
- Why are you called into ministry? What soul work might God be wanting to do in you through your call?
- What is the biggest annoyance you have in your ministry now? What lesson might God be trying to teach you through it?
For further thought if you’re considering ministry…
- What is the draw for you to enter into ministry? What soul work might God be wanting to do in you through your call?
- Do you think your faith could thrive in another vocation? How might ministry uniquely shape you as a Christian?