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.
FINDING GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE
This is one of the most misunderstood subjects among Christians. We talk about “God’s will for our life” as though it were this big mystical enigma that only a few people get lucky enough to get right while the rest of us flounder around hoping that we end up tripping over some kind of “destiny”. Sadly, many people don’t ever seem to grasp it, and end up spending their lives trying to figure out how to live their life.
They don’t lack for praying any. Many people in this position have prayed and prayed and prayed… hoping that their future would unfold before them with some kind of supernatural certainty and Divine blessing of promised success. And when they don’t get it, they feel lonely, as if God has kind of left them hanging, or has refused to show them anything. So, spiritually speaking, they conclude that the reason for this is because of a personal sin issue. “I’m just not trusting God enough, when I believe in Him enough, then He’ll show me.”And the cycle continues until the person either makes some big decisions for themselves or, often times, walks away from their faith – entirely frustrated.
Any of that sound like things that have happened in your heart or life? Then maybe these questions can help you get traction in discovering and following God’s will for your life:
- What is in your hand?: God asked Moses this when He revealed His purpose for Moses life in Exodus 4, and at the time all Moses had was a staff. Nothing fancy, it was basically a good walking stick. But this “walking stick” showed up almost everywhere through the rest of Moses’ life. God used his staff as a means of showing Moses His will. So what is in your hand? What talents, gifts, resources, connections has God given you that He may want to leverage for your good and His glory? Don’t overlook what you think of as “ordinary”; Moses had a stick, for crying out loud!
- Who has God put in my life?: Throughout Scripture, we see God calling people into His will together. You were meant to live in community. You are a part of a whole, just like me. we need each other to be all that God has called us to. Who are the people that are unmistakeably placed in your life by God?
- What are you doing now?: It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. There’s a good chance that you’re closer to God’s will than you know, yet you are trying so hard to look far into your future that you didn’t realize that you were standing on it all along. God isn’t waiting to use you “someday,” He desires a purpose for you right here – right now! So how could the things you are doing now fit into God’s design for you?
- What is my plan?: Form your dreams and desires into a functioning plan. Leave some flexibility room, because plans do change. But if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. What are the steps that need to take place in order for you to get where God is leading you? This is the part where most people quit. Whether it’s due to the fear of asking themselves the tough questions of “how?” or just laziness, many people with all of the potential never get to see it materialize for lack of a plan.
- What’s it going to take?: Too many well-intentioned people are stationary for fear of the unknown. At some point, despite the things you are unsure of, you have to begin to make some decisions and acting on those decisions. How much certainty do you need to have before you act? That is a legitimate question. Are you waiting for the finances before you enroll for college? How much of the money do you need to see first before you trust God for the rest? Create if/then decisions and take action. And if you wait for absolute 100% certainty, you’ll never do what God wants for you. Period.
Certainly, more could be said. But I hope this helps you chew over the big questions and that you will refuse to settle for less than God’s best for your life.