I believe there are many people who are called to “full-time ministry,” who haven’t yet taken the step of faith to fulfil their destiny. There is a stigma about being a pastor. People think it’s only for the special chosen ones, or the ones with a “higher calling” – one so high that not many will ever reach such a height.
Let me clear up some misconceptions first. I believe every Christian is called to “full-time ministry.” Wherever we are in life, all Christians are called to minister to people. In our marriages, our homes, our workplace, in the sports arena, on holidays. Wherever we are, we should be ambassadors for Christ.
There is a price to pay … But do we truly trust in the Lord to provide for our every need?
However, I believe there is a crisis in the body of Christ. I believe many are called to leave their secular jobs and be trained and equipped to serve full-time working for a church or a parachurch ministry. But many people haven’t stepped out, or won’t step out, in ministry because of fear, or they are following a shadow mission, or they just haven’t been asked …
I remember as a 17-year-old, chatting with my youth pastor. I told him I wanted to go to Bible college, and go straight into ministry. He suggested that I should get a job in the secular marketplace for a season first. It was great advice! After Bible college, I spent time selling advertising at radio stations, building relationships with business people, learning the ropes of the way the corporate world worked. But then I felt a calling to lay it down and step into youth ministry.
I remember the Scripture that came to me, “Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it” (Matt 10:38-39). Think about the disciples and the price they had to pay. They had to give up their fishing businesses, their tax-collecting business; regardless of their professions, the disciples immediately left behind everything to follow Jesus.
There is a price to pay. Financially, it doesn’t look like a smart decision in the world’s eyes. But do we truly trust in the Lord to provide for our every need?
Some are called to work in the secular marketplace and to shine a light in that arena. Colossians 3:22 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”
But at this stage in life as I continue to do the work of the ministry I am in, I also see the crucial importance of raising up other leaders. And not just young people! Some churches write people off if they are over a certain age. Now I do believe we need to raise up young leaders, but as C.S. Lewis said, “you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
English evangelist Smith Wigglesworth was in his late 40s when he launched into ministry. I think one of the beautiful things about the body of Christ is that whether young and old, black or white, male or female, we are all called to work together in unity.
Are you willing to die to your own agenda and plans and fully surrender yourself to the Lord?
I often wonder if the model Jesus used should be the way we should do ministry in 2019. Find 12 men, and teach them everything you know, and commission them to ministry.
Is the Lord opening doors for you? Will you be obedient and walk through them?
Some people mightn’t be sure of their calling. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! American self-help guru Norman Vincent Peale said, “shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Or remember the Aussie saying, “Have a go, ya mug!” What have you got to lose? If you do step out in ministry then, potentially, souls will be saved from a Christ-less eternity, marriages will be strengthened, lives will be transformed, the poor will be cared for. Who knows what might be accomplished? If you don’t step out in ministry, you will keep getting the fruit you are seeing in your life.
I remember a preacher once saying whatever is your holy discontent is probably what you’re called to. If you can’t stand people going to hell, you’re an evangelist; if you can’t stand seeing people with no Bible knowledge, you’re called to the teaching ministry.
I used to be frustrated when I had to work for secular companies and do ministry on the side. I just wanted to preach and minister full-time. I know it was an important season for me, but then the Lord opened doors for me. Is the Lord opening doors for you? Will you be obedient and walk through them?
Serving full-time in ministry doesn’t have to be in a church. It can be in a parachurch organisation, in Christian media, as a chaplain, as a missionary, at a rehab; you could start a new ministry. They say that many of the jobs that will be available in the workforce in the future haven’t even been invented yet!
I took one of our young guys from New Hope on an eight-day mission trip last year. We preached 14 times, and saw more than 150 people come to Christ. Along the way, we prayed, we worshipped, we spoke about the things of God. I was able to speak into his life. I felt the Lord challenge me that I need to raise up many more people in ministry, and that this is a great model. He then got inspired and organised a trip back to India to his hometown to preach. He preached several times and saw about 150 people get saved!
John Wesley said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.”
Matt Prater is a minister at New Hope, Brisbane, and presenter of History Makers on Vision Radio.