I’ll never forget preparing for my first sermon. I was 19 years old, newly married, and scared out of my mind. My initial outline, which I had labored for days to create, suddenly looked like sophomoric drivel on Saturday night. Discouraged, yet determined, I threw up a quick prayer to beg for wisdom and/or grace, then dove headfirst into a complete rewrite. I went to bed in the wee hours of Sunday morning with a new sermon outline and an unsteady hope that God would somehow intervene.
My first sermon lasted 14 minutes.
OK, so I didn’t know anything about timing or delivery, but I think I still hold the world record for most words per minute on a Sunday morning.
Later that afternoon I was exhausted and ecstatic. I finally experienced what God had been preparing me for–I was going to serve Him in vocational ministry for the rest of my life.
What about you? Have you ever felt God leading you to serve Him in ministry?
Though totally unintended, that was a trick question. If you’re a follower of Jesus, God expects you to serve Him by ministering to others. What I’m talking about is something a little different. God’s plan for some people includes ministry leadership as a career. You may have heard this referred to as a “calling to ministry,” especially if you grew up in church. A “calling” is simply a God-inspired assignment that aligns your unique gifts with His specific purpose. Here’s how the Apostle Paul described it:
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT.
Please hear me: everyone saved by God’s grace is of equal worth and importance, but we all have different functions within the body of Christ. All of us are ministers, but God has set apart some people to prepare other people for ministry. Make sense?
Some ministry leaders are paid while others serve in leadership positions as a volunteer. Of the ones who are paid, some work for the church as full-time employees, while many receive the equivalent of a part-time salary (notice how I worded that last part–there’s no such thing as a part-time ministry leader!).
No matter the rate of pay, ministry leaders are held to a higher level of responsibility for the maturing of the body of Christ. Every one of them teaches, counsels, and encourages while relentlessly leading the congregation to accomplish God’s mission for the church.How do you know if you’re the person God is setting apart for leadership in ministry? There are four things that usually accompany a calling from God:
How do you know if you’re the person God is setting apart for leadership in ministry? There are four things that usually accompany a calling from God:
- A confirmation you don’t seek. A calling to ministry should be confirmed by the people who know you best. Don’t look for affirmation from just anyone, but listen closely to people who live out maturity in faith by listening to and fully trusting God. For example, the Apostle Paul often affirmed Timothy’s calling to ministry–that’s a pretty good endorsement!
- An irresistible and unshakable trust. Abram experienced this in Genesis 12 when he was compelled by God to leave his homeland for an unknown place. The pull on his life caused him to uproot his life and family, but he did so because he trusted God.
- A passion that isn’t manufactured. When God calls, He gives an unstoppable passion to accomplish His mission. Are you thinking about, dreaming about, and talking about the things that are important to God? If so, perhaps God is preparing you to serve Him at a different level.
- A feeling of inadequacy. It’s been said that God doesn’t call the equipped but He equips the called. The Bible is full of people who argued with God about His plans for their life. Don’t let the feeling of inadequacy push you away from ministry, but allow it to draw you into a deeper dependence upon God.
Every follower of Jesus is called to ministry. It’s a full-time gig–we do whatever it takes to serve others, share the message of salvation through Jesus, and glorify God in everything we do and say. But I’m thankful God grants the special opportunity for some to be fully immersed in leading the body of Christ to expand God’s Kingdom!
If you think God may be preparing you for vocational ministry, let’s celebrate and talk through some next steps. We’re going to host an “Exploring Ministry” discussion in mid-December–shoot me an email (email@example.com) for more information.
What I need to remember:
- MEMBERSHIP CLASS. Are you considering partnering with The Church at Clayton Crossings? Join us for our no-obligation Partnership Class this Sunday, November 20 that will give you a peek behind the curtain at who we are and what we do. Here’s the super-short version: we are people who have been rescued by God who are willing to do whatever He asks! Follow this link to sign up.
- NO WEDNESDAY EVENING EVENTS NEXT WEEK. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we want to give you time to spend with family (or time to perform the annual “Marathon Clean” before family arrives). Wednesday evening activities will resume on November 30.
- CHRISTMAS BRUNCH AND SOCK EXCHANGE. We’re hosting a preemptive break from the holiday craziness on Saturday, December 3 from 9:00-11:00am. Bring a pair of (new!) Christmas socks and a breakfast side dish to share. Learn more and register online at ly/CWBrunch.
What I’m reading
- More: Find Your Personal Calling and Live Life to the Fullest Measure by Todd Wilson.
- Kingdom First: Starting Churches that Shape Movements by Jeff Christopherson and Mac Lake.
John Sanders is the non-stuffy pastor at The Church at Clayton Crossings. His primary mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. Additionally, he longs to write like the child of Aaron Sorkin and Dave Barry, preach like W.A. Criswell, look like Bradley Cooper, and eat like he’s seventeen years old. A more complete (and less snarky) bio can be found here.