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Ministry for the Sake of Whom?



I was having a conversation with my husband yesterday about what the Lord would have us to do, specifically, as co-laborers with Him.  We began discussing how many Christians become concerned with their calling or God-given assignment pretty early on in their walk with the Lord.  Most churches make it their duty to help believers assess their spiritual giftings in an effort to guide them in discovering their purpose or calling in this earth.  I began to comment about how this model leaves us more concerned with the personal call of ministry ABOVE the end of all ministry.  There is a preoccupation with trying to discover our specific calling or assignment(s) for the Lord while leaving the very reason for the service at a far second.  In previous ministries we were involved in, there was such an emphasis placed on finding your gifts and calls so you could be "used by the Lord" that it would leave one feeling inadequate and unusable if they do not specifically know their gifts or ministerial call.

We are so caught up with discovering our unique calling, spiritual gift(s) or assignment for the sake of just that....OUR assignment....OUR to do.....OUR gift.  It is not wrong to desire to know what God would have us to do as a vessel for Him.  If we are committed to the Lord's will, it is actually very necessary to know what areas He would have us operate in as the Spirit wills.  It is even admonished at the end of 1 Corinthians 12 to desire the best or greater gifts (greater in that they edify the body more than others).  However, we should not desire to do anything for Christ, in Christ or through Christ without the end being to His glory for the benefit of the body and this lost and dying world.  We are to complete the tasks we have been given to the glory and honor of the Lord (He has prepared good works for us to do Ephesians 2:10) to fulfill and achieve the purposes that He has set out, and not for our own personal agendas.

Let's use Ephesians 4:11-16 as an example for a minute.


And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

In this we see the positions listed (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) exist to serve a particular end or purpose...."for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God...."  Even if we look at the passages in 1 Corinthians 12 about spiritual gifts, we find a common thread.  1 Corinthians 12:7 says, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all."  So then, the gifts are given for the primary end of profiting or helping other believers (and non believers in some instances) as we journey on in Christ.  Otherwise, what need is there for them?  

Here are a few selfless examples from Scripture:

  • Call:  God anointed David as King over His people.  Purpose: God knew David would have the heart to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord as it concerned the people (Acts 13:22)
  • Call:  Joseph was exalted by God to a high position in Egypt.  Purpose:  to save the lives of many (Genesis 50:20) 
  • Call:  Saul converted to Paul and became an Apostle Purpose:  to bring the hope of the Gospel to the Gentiles.
And there are countless other examples.

I am sure some may have a few contrary thoughts about this particular point, but I believe God's primary purpose is to prepare for Himself a Bride without spot or blemish to redeem us when Christ returns for His Bride.  He is accomplishing this task in many ways, and as we make the decision to partner with Him, there will be a part for each of us to play....as He wills.  Anytime we desire to be or do for God outside of His intended purposes, we will always run into the issue of pride and self-exaltation.  More times than not, we will convince ourselves that we are doing the Lord (and other believers) a favor and begin to look for validation and approval because of the tasks we perform in His name.  Deep down in our rejected and unsatisfied hearts, we want to be acknowledged and applauded.   

Below is a short snippet from an article I read today on a Christian ministry's website about discovering your calling (emphasis added by me):

"You realize this call is the Holy Spirit working within you. It’s a conviction about what you are to do with your life at a particular time. It is something that feeds your passion. It is that unexplained, God-given desire deep within your soul that excites you whenever you think about it. Finding that “sweet spot” where your abilities and interests align with God’s purposes and intersect with the world’s needs is something many people long to achieve. Your calling is something you do because it gives you a sense of fulfillment of God’s plan for your life."

This is a carnal and selfish view where YOU become the center and God's "calling" serves to fulfill and satisfy your desires, but many hold this very same view.  This might work for identifying your next career move (which still needs to be lead by the Lord), but not so much with the Kingdom of God.

We, as servants of the Lord, should take this attitude:

"When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty."  

Luke 17:7-10

This is a matter of humility.  Consenting to do whatever it is we are called to do,at any time, in obedience to our master in service to Him and others!

I ended the conversation by stating my primary concern is not to find that one niche to satisfy any carnal desire for "ministry" or recognition, or for the sake of assuaging a conscience that's still not sure about what nouns to place in my tagline.  We must live each day ready to do or say or be whatever the Spirit of God is leading.  

If we be preachers; we will preach.
If we be intercessors; we will intercede.
If we be teachers; we will teach.
If we be singers; we will sing.
If we be pastors; we will watch over God's flock.
If we be prophets; we will prophesy.
If we have the gift of healing; we will heal.
Et al.


And we will do so whenever called upon by the Lord to His honor and glory for the edification of Christ's body as we seek to be conduit's through which He accomplishes His will in the earth.  Don't be caught up with what is in it for you (other than a glorified body and an abode in your rightful homestead), but be concerned with His predetermined end in the things concerning your life, His call and spiritual gifts.  

And remember....do all things in love.  (1 Corinthians 16:14)  Love for God and love for others.

 


Comments

  1. You raise an excellent question in this article which has caused me some soul searching.
    You seem to describe two motivations: 1) seeking a calling for the sake of self, and 2) seeking a calling for the end purposes of the Lord.
    However, after examining my own heart about this, I find that my primary motivation falls in a third category: seeking a calling because the Lord has put a fire in me for it that cannot be held back.
    Perhaps I'm describing a phenomenon somewhat similar to what is described in Jeremiah 20:9: "Then I said, 'I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.' But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not."
    I am seeking a calling at the moment, and when I asked myself why I am doing it, I realized that I am not doing it primarily to edify the Body and seek the lost (although those things are important to me)...however, I do not seem to be doing it out of selfish ambition, gratification, or approval, either.
    Just as Jeremiah's fulfillment of the calling he referred to was due more to the Lord's fire in him than a specific purpose, I feel like I am seeking a calling because the Lord has put a desire for it in me like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I cannot hold it back.
    I love the Lord with all of my heart and want to have the right motivations, so perhaps I am describing the fuel/energy that the Holy Spirit gives us necessary to pursue our calling?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Praise God for the fire He has placed in you! May the Lord make His will clear to you in the area of the works He has prepared for you to do.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Also, check out what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:16 about The call to preach the Gospel. I am sure you may be able to relate. If our motivation is to honor and obey the Lord, our call will be tied to His purpose or end. The motivation to obey God ( many of the prophets had a charge or Word from God that they did not always want to convey but they did so not because of the people in those instances but because of the instruction from God) should always take precedence. So I so understand where you are coming from.

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