One of the greatest opportunities I feel like God has consistently given me, is the chance to speak life over many young adults (typically men) who are considering pursuing ministry as a vocation. Frankly, I think every follower of Christ is called to full-time ministry, regardless of their career path. But God does prompt many of us (myself included) to something separate entirely – to be leaders in the church as a calling and a career.
Here are a few things I try to tell every individual person who is considering becoming a pastor, student pastor, worship leader, missionary, right-hand-man, or any one of a hundred different ways to lead in a church vocationally…
- Start where you’re at. If you can’t be faithful serving as a greeter or janitor in your current church, why would anyone ever expect you to be faithful in prepping for messages, counseling couples, managing finances, leading people smarter than you, or planning strategic campaigns?! “He who is faithful in little shall also be faithful in much.”
- Start discipling someone. I would expect this of anyone who considers himself a mature Christ-follower anyway. Find someone that you can begin pouring your life into. Don’t try to be their boss. Just try to nurture and encourage their relationship with God. Share of your own struggles and moments that God has used to draw you closer to Himself.
- Find a mentor. Just as you should be pouring your life into someone else, you need someone mature who can do the same for you. This helps you be aware of your own blind-spots, and reminds you that you have plenty room to grow as well (and you always will). And as you’ll see further on, you’ll need such a coach to encourage you.
- People will hurt you. I’ve had people I’ve invested my life into, walk away from me. I’ve had people that I’ve seen grow, suddenly abandon their faith. I’ve had others who have smiled and nodded during my preaching, who then trashed me to others behind my back. You can do everything right by people, and some will still mistreat you. Love them anyway.
- If you can be fulfilled in life doing anything else, do it. This was counsel I received a hundred times by a variety of sources by the time I stepped onto the stage of ministry. And they were all correct. The price you pay emotionally, spiritually, relationally, financially, even physically at times, is greater than you could possibly imagine. I don’t know anyone “succeeding” in ministry who isn’t covered in scars and bruises. You will be no different.
- God doesn’t waste pain. Whatever you go through for the Kingdom, whatever hurt you endure, whatever you trust God for that He doesn’t come through like you hoped, no matter the sacrifice or cost – somewhere else, God always eventually repays… with interest. Hang in there.
- It’s totally worth it. I’ve never had a second thought about why I’m in this for keeps. God ruined my life to do anything else the moment I got to be part of someone’s story of finding Christ. From that moment on, I was done for. No matter the cost, I had to give everything I am to being a part of more stories of God’s redemption in people’s lives. I accept the scars. They pale in comparison of knowing Christ and seeing Him at work. Besides, when I compare my scars to His, I’m reminded that I’ll never out-give my God.
I’m not sure if that encouraged or discouraged many of you to pursuit ministry, but if you’re considering it, someone needed to tell you. If God is prompting you, and you accept that calling, you will join countless thousands whose lives have also been ruined. Let’s build the Kingdom together!
PS. And if that is you, look me up and shoot me a message. I’m always glad to pour into one more person.