By James Smith
Probably the worst thing that can happen to a God-called minister of the Gospel is that they would be confused about their calling. Confusion in the ministry thwarts the positive impact of the church. No congregation or ministry can move forward when the leadership of that organization is confused about their calling.
Whether we are talking about an individual’s or an organization’s calling, confusion can kill their potential. Some men/women spend their entire lives confused about their calling. Hearing a call from God, but listening for direction from other people.
It’s important to understand that every Calling is not a call to preach. Some would argue this. Countless young men and women have felt a call on their life, but got their direction from good-meaning people who put Preaching on them. “You’re going to be a great preacher.” “I feel you are called to preach!” Prophecies are spoken over these people by many misguided folks who believe or have been taught that only a preacher can have an effect on the work of God. Some would have every worker in the harvest to be Great Preachers.
Stop! The world does not just need more preachers. It needs more people who are concerned about souls. It needs compassionate people who care enough about their fellow man to pray for them and invite them to church. It needs not preachers, but teachers. Teachers who will take Bible in hand and sit in someone’s home and teach them a Bible study. Truth is hard to come by, yet it is right at our fingertips. Our generation is lost for a lack of understanding of the Bible.
What is the calling you are called to? Share truth with someone who does not know the truth. Jesus said, “I share with you a truth”. Long before Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, Jesus (our example,” was teaching in the synagogue.
What is it about our human nature that desires to be “The one up front.” The one doing the talking. What is it about our human nature that desires not a teacher, but a preacher. Midweek Bible studies have only a slice of the attendance that Sunday preaching services have. Why is that? We are still coming together to worship and share the Word. Yet on Sunday there is preaching and on the midweek service there is teaching. And the church would rather hear a preacher than a teacher.
It’s in our nature. We want an icon. We want someone to idealize. We want a spokesman for our church. We want preachers. So every person who feels a call on their life gets “pushed’ into the preacher mold.
We need more missionaries. We could use some good solid teachers. Front line kind of people who are not after the limelight. Young men and women who do not desire to be up front, but rather in the back somewhere like the young man Joshua. Joshua stayed in the temple.
I’m a preacher. But let me tell you, being a preacher is not such a grand thing. There is hardly ever a time that I preach that I don’t put my foot in my mouth or say something that does not hurt someone’s feelings. I like the idea that God uses me to preach, but I don’t like preaching. I want to do whatever He wants me to do. Maybe my preaching can reach someone who would not be won otherwise. But I don’t like it. I’m not comfortable doing it. I get sick thinking about it and it stresses me out for days before I have to preach. I’d rather be asked to preach 1 minute before service than 1 week before. That way I don’t have to worry and fret over what I will say, how I will say it and whether God will back me up.
Years ago I was a Youth Pastor. I loved that. All I had to do was love and mentor those kids. I could hardly make a mistake with them. When I did make a mistake, they didn’t know any better. Now when I preach, someone is either going to critique me or grumble about what I preached on.
Youth ministers… Now there is a High Calling. There is a ministry that can change lives. The highlight of my entire ministry is not the places or sermons I preached. It is the young men and women who were in that youth group I lead who, over 20 years later, themselves are either involved in ministry or involved in the ministry of their local church. The greatest complement I ever received as a minister was when a renown evangelist was telling me about a church he had just been at where a young woman who led the worship in the large church he preached at “tore it up”. It took me a few minutes, but I soon realized he was talking about what used to be one of the young teenage girls who had been in our youth group many years ago. Pastors, choir directors, worship leaders, Sunday school teachers, assistant pastors, missionaries, they all came out of that youth group.
Confused about your calling? Stop thinking big. Think small. Despise not the day of small things. Jesus himself did not start out big. He started out very, very, small. It couldn’t get much humbler than the area he first began evangelizing. He didn’t start out preaching to crowds. He started out in people’s homes. Think very small about what you can do for Him today. Now don’t go thinking I am saying to do very little. I’m actually saying that you will do more for the Kingdom when you stop trying to “get somewhere” in the Kingdom.
How much more valuable is someone who consistently brings a guest or two with them to church? What if the church was full of those kind of people who thought small enough to simply bring a guest with them to church? Our churches would be full of new people and if that continued, our buildings would not be able to contain the growth. Small thinkers, that’s what our churches need. People who don’t strive for position, but rather for true ministry. You want to start a revival? Start a street mission. You want to light this world on fire? Find some kids who are trying to find their way and show them Truth. You want to become someone great in the Kingdom? Care for the fatherless. Find some children whose fathers have left the home and be a mentor to them.
Confused about your ministry? You won’t be if you are doing what God has called you to do. Now if you are trying to do what everyone expects of you, then you will probably spend most of your ministry not only confused, but also very disappointed.
If you are called to be a preacher, it will come. You cannot hurry it. You cannot make it happen. You cannot open the door yourself. Someone may help you get a few places to preach. You may even have a few sermons that go over pretty well. But you will frustrate your calling when try to get the cart before the horse. Whatever the calling is on your life, be sure that it will find you. For those who try to make their own way, they will spend many years doing the wrong thing and making many mistakes, only to come full circle to what God had called them to originally. Why not start there to begin with and enjoy what you are doing.
God has never had a problem elevating people overnight. Joseph, David and Peter were all men who God raised up overnight. Before he did, he had a school of hard knocks for them to go through. Though David could kill a giant with a sling shot, it would be years before he was ready to lead the nation of Israel. Peter was a rough and tough fisherman, but God had a couple of humiliating lessons to teach Peter before he could lead His sheep. Joseph was a dreamer. The world needs dreamers. Be careful that you don’t kill the dreamers of this world, it may be that someday soon they will save your life. But before Joseph the dreamer could help anyone, he had to realize that it took more than a dream to make something good happen. It takes patience, planning, and hard work to prepare for the thing you are dreaming about.
Confusion is what happens when a person is lost or has lost their direction. They teach us that if we are lost in the woods or wilderness, the best thing that you can do is sit down right where you are at and wait to be found. At the least this will give you time to calm down and begin to think rationally about the direction you came from and the one you need to go.
Is it possible that your confusion is a result of your going in a direction you are not yet called to? David said, “He leads me beside still waters.” Do you genuinely feel God leading you? Are the waters still? Or are they turbulent and worrisome? Are you upset at your elders because they have not recognized you? Are you mad at your pastor because he has not asked you to preach yet? Jealous because you don’t get to be on the “platform”? Maybe it’s not your time yet. Maybe you are actually running from something that He has actually called you to. It’s entirely possible that you are trying to avoid the lesson He is trying to teach you right where you are at.
Over 25 years ago, I was a 17 year old kid. New in the church with a calling on my life. I was sure the Pastor knew it. I just knew that I was going to be the next preacher in our church. So, I went to my Pastor’s office and told him just that. “I feel like God is calling me to the Ministry!” I told him. Yes, I do too he said. I just knew this was from God. “Meet me here in the office before church next Sunday morning” he said. Wow! He was going to have me preach. At the least he was going to have me lead the worship or have some part in the service. So, I was at his office early Sunday morning. “Come with me.” He said. Out of his office we went. Right past the door that went into the auditorium was where the crowd would gather to hear the preaching. “Where was he leading me?” “Where was he going to place me so my “Calling” could be exercised. Where did he take me? The Nursery Sunday School Class; 2 and 3 year olds! “I want you to help assist the teachers in this class for the next year, do you think you can do that?”
Now here is the place every great preacher should start. Taking little 2 year olds to the bathroom and cleaning up spilt Kool-Aid. Wow, won’t all the other preachers stand up and take notice of me now. Then it happened… I fell in love with those little kids. It didn’t take long before all the little boys were looking up to me like I was their hero. The little girls soon began to warm up to me and some would want to sit on my lap during story time. One little girl in particular who was often the loner in the class would find her way to me each and every Sunday morning. Tabitha became my favourite, not because of how pretty, well dressed or cute she was, but because it was apparent to me that she did not have anyone who truly loved her the way she needed to be loved.
As was the routine before class would start, I would wait by the door of the church for the Sunday School bus to bring the children. I would gather them all together by my side and then like a hen with her chicks, I would walk them all to the classroom. One Sunday morning however, I waited for Tabitha to get off the bus. She never missed Sunday School. Even if her parents would not wake her up or get her ready for church, the bus staff would wait for her and even help her get ready if needed. But this Sunday morning she never got off the bus. I approached the bus driver, “Where’s Tabitha?” His head went down as he told me she died that night of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
I nearly fell to my knees right there in the hall way. It was like a knife just went through me. It never occurred to me that the little girl who sat on my lap at story time may pass into eternity before next Sunday.
I found an altar that day. I found a place to lay before the Lord and plead for souls. I spent most of that Sunday afternoon at the church praying that I would not lose another child in our class before we had the chance to teach them about the love that God has for them. I called each child’s name out loud with tears flowing. “God help us reach these little children.”
I was never a very good Sunday School teacher. But I had a genuine love for those God placed in my care. That love transcended my shortcomings and caused me to be very comfortable in the “small” work that He called me to.
Through the years, God has constantly moved me to various areas of ministry. At each place he was teaching me something and at each place he was preparing me for the next place he would have me serve.
Are you frustrated teaching little kids? Tired of the “small” work he has you in right now? Be careful not to confuse your calling. You are there for a reason. Stop looking for advancement and get a genuine burden for the work that’s before you today. Do that, and you will conquer your fears and limitations. Do that and you will find your true calling.