Called to the Ministry

Personal Reflection

Growing up as a young man, I was overwhelmed with an extremely strong desire to be a preacher. Without fully realizing the importance, responsibility and sacrifice involved in being called to the ministry, I drafted a plan and worked desperately to accomplish the same. I completed high school in three years, got a teaching job, and financially assisted my parents for two years. I then entered full-time ministry at the age of 18.

Being full-time in Guyana as a junior minister meant trusting God for food, clothes, and everything else. It was a life of faith and dependence on God. As I reflect on the past 33 years of God’s faithfulness, I am convinced that it was God who called, directed and preserved my life to this day. Praise His wonderful name!

The Training Process

The hardships, afflictions, necessities and sacrifices I experienced were tools used by God to condition my spirit, to better equip me in becoming a minister, and not just a preacher.

‘Bad slots’ and ‘valley experiences’ in my life were my greatest periods of learning. As I died to personal ambition, I realized that my perspective of being a successful minister was no longer measured by financial, numerical or social excellence.

Comparing myself to the ‘religious stalwarts’ of today makes me look and feel unaccomplished, unsuccessful and insignificant. As such, I choose to resort only to Biblical examples for comparison and role models. Whether it was Paul, Peter, Isaiah, Jeremiah-or even our Lord Jesus Himself-self-denial, suffering and rejection were elements reflecting the calling of God in their lives.

Scriptural Guideline

The Apostle Paul testifies about being “troubled”, “perplexed”, “persecuted” and “cast down”, as the ‘dying process’ a minister goes through. As death is worked into the minister, life is offered to his congregation. (2 Cor. 4:8-12). Paul “suffered the loss of all things” in order to “win Christ” . (Phil. 3:7-8). Again, in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, the apostle includes, “afflictions”, “necessities”, “distresses” and “stripes”, among the many ‘approving factors’ in a successful ministry.

Unlike our 21st Century ‘sheiks in the pulpit’ who equate wealth and happiness with ministerial success, Biblical examples of men of God were identified by almost total rejection. The greatest example is our Lord Himself. He was “despised and rejected”. John declares that “He came to his own and his own received him not.” (Jn. 1:11). Is it not strange that our Lord’s ministry resulted in only about one hundred and twenty in the upper room, yet today’s ministries are encompassed by hundreds of thousands?

According to the gospel of Matthew, Jesus sent out His disciples on a ‘ministry mission’. The Lord’s description of all that entails preaching the gospel was no bed of roses. Preaching was accompanied by rejection, hatred, and self-denial. (Mt. 10).

In an age where identity is easily lost because society patterns itself after role models, it becomes the tedious responsibility of men of God to retain their calling. The flamboyance and materialistic accomplishments of present day ministries may tempt and motivate sincere ministers to adopt and imbibe apostate gimmickry.

The church was never intended to be a social club with the minister being puppeted by the carnal drives of a worldly congregation. When the congregation becomes an audience, the minister is pressured to become a performer and entertainer. Apostate Christianity should never be the directive influence in our assemblies. Our safety lies in God’s word, and Biblical examples are a good comparison to our efforts. May Jesus be our role model.

The Importance of Calling

Contrary to public opinion in today’s society, the ministry is, among all professions, the greatest and most sacred. Described by the Apostle Paul as “ambassadors” who speak “in Christ’s stead” (2 Cor. 5:20), the ministry is an absolute necessity for spiritual growth and stability in the church. In Ephesians 4:11-14, scripture credits the ministry for “the perfecting of the saints” until the “fullness of Christ” is achieved, and spiritual maturity is reflected in a godly lifestyle. (Eph. 4:17-19). This should be the result of a ministry ordained by Jesus Himself.

The calling of a minister originates from God and every man in the ministry must embrace the reality of this fact.
A man that assumes the office of a minister without ‘calling’ will not adequately fulfill this divine responsibility. To begin with, he will not be prepared or have his spirit tempered by the Holy Ghost. On the contrary, he will pursue self-training and education in an effort to substitute for lack of calling. Unfortunately, carnal human education and genius will exalt, rather than modify the human spirit. Paul warns of the danger of placing a “novice” in office. (1 Tim. 3:6).

A true minister is not the result of an elector’s board, or the alternate route in replacing his academic and industrial failure. The ministry is neither an heirloom, nor the by-product of religious education. But rather, it is the result of divine intervention. God calls, then prepares His men before sending them out with His gospel. To speak in Christ’s stead is a solemn responsibility, and it behooves us as ministers to have our eyes and ears open to God’s voice. Our message will not be the result of theological indoctrination, but “meat in due season”. (Mt. 24:45).

Similar to every man of God in the Bible, we are to present a message that exposes evil in our day, and offer God’s children a way of escape. Present truth is meat in due season. In a world filled with deception, in which even the Devil himself preaches the Gospel, it becomes necessary to consider the validity of our calling.

Scripture warns that blind leaders will lead their blind congregations into the ditch, and their efforts in evangelism will produce “two-fold [children] of hell”. (Mt. 15:14; Mt. 23:15). Blind and slumbering watchmen will never sound the appropriate warning of impending enemy invasion for God’s people, for they themselves fail to recognize the reality of today’s evils. (Ezek. 33:1-5; Isa. 56:10).

Giving No Offence

Last but not least, every man of God should consider our Lord’s warning that the world would hate us. (John 15:18-19). There is indeed an increasing animosity against true preachers of holiness. Should the Devil succeed in destroying the shepherds, the sheep would positively be scattered and the work of God left in ruin.

The destruction of a minister is not necessarily the physical collapse of his work. It may well be the undermining of his thought pattern. When a shepherd falls victim to the ‘wolf’, his innocent and sincere sheep will have little opportunity to escape. A minister who is influenced by the spirit of the age will, without awareness, reflect the same to the sheep. As a result, discipleship and self-denial are eliminated, and the ungodly trends of this evil world promoted. He will ‘run with the pack’ and not know that he is already destroyed.

Therefore, it becomes imperative that ministers do their best, by God’s help, to “walk circumspectly” and give no room for the Adversary. God’s work should hold priority to personal pleasure and fleshly gratification. Let us never forget that He has called us to be holy, not necessarily happy. Holiness should always hold priority to happiness. Paul exhorted the ministry in Corinth to give “no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God.” (2 Cor. 6:3-4).

May God, in His mercy, raise up and anoint a ministry in our day that will seek Him diligently until He empowers them with an anointing that will destroy the yoke that binds God’s people.

May He give them a relevant message that will save God’s people from the spirit of this present evil world.