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Last updated: Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Matching Your Call with Ministry

MATCHING CALL WITH MINISTRY: IS THIS WHERE I BELONG?

As the saying goes, it is easier to appoint someone than fire them! Not only is this so in the commercial world, but also in Christian service.

Many years of Christian leadership have taught the dangers of appointing wrong people to positions, either staff or voluntary.

The measure of a Christian minister is not how well they preach, teach, evangelize, demonstrate faith, etc., but how much they reflect the nature and character of God; how much others are changed into His likeness as a result of the ministry. Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matt 7:16). Many ministry problems would be avoided by giving more attention to identifying past “fruit” rather than present ability, charisma, or even perceived calling.

Further, declaring a calling and possessing a calling are two different things. Likewise, being called to a type of ministry and being called to a specific ministry are two different things.

This paper identifies a number of issues that need to be addressed in ascertaining an individual’s fit as a serving minister within a particular ministry. A checklist has been developed out of this discussion to assist both the candidate and the appointing committee.

MINISTRY vs MINISTER

Ministry organizations are raised up to fulfill certain God ordained purposes. They may be specific or broad in nature; they may be local or general in expression. Each has its own particular set of values, mission, vision, objectives, and strategy. Those who begin the ministry are driven by the vision. For them, the vision of the ministry (organization) and the vision of the minister (individual) are synonymous. These pioneers make great sacrifices, unmatched by those who follow and enjoy the benefits of their predecessors.

With each succeeding generation, a shift can take place. The original “calling” of the ministry is acknowledged less and less, each succeeding leader bringing their own flavor of vision. Pressure is often brought to bear on the vision by other ministers considering it their right to express their “calling”. Eventually, unless great care is taken, the problematic position of Judges 17:6 can be reached. “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.”

God is progressive in both nature and outworking. Nothing happens by chance, the future builds on, and is linked to, the past; and God doesn’t continually change his mind! His plans are from before the foundations of the earth.

God said to Moses as he was about to commence the Tabernacle, “Make sure you build it exactly like the pattern” (Ex 25). In fact, God was so concerned that His plans were followed he repeated the instruction several times, and Scripture records several times that they followed the pattern, exactly. God appointed those with special skills and abilities to assist (Ex 31). None changed the plan. None outworked their personal vision at the expense of the bigger vision. None assumed that the organizational vision was subservient to their own. They all worked toward the one goal….the plan revealed to Moses by God. It would even appear that Moses himself was not always enamored with the vision, but he was still subservient to it.

This is not to say that everything is set in concrete from day one and must never change. Vision is clarified and updated, objectives change as needs change, and strategies change accordingly; nevertheless, the original values and mission remain constant; otherwise, a new organization actually forms under the old name. Sometimes this is legitimate, particularly when the original vision is completed, but it should never be a result of individuals fulfilling their particular “calling” above that of the organization. The minister must always be subservient to the ministry. If an individual is not willing to do this, they forfeit the privilege of serving in that particular ministry/organization, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God, should acknowledge this, and withdraw candidature.

In other words, an individual’s calling must always be subservient to the calling of the ministry organization in which it finds expression.

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