Monday, March 19, 2012

Is There A Special Call To Missions?

People seeking God’s will for their lives often ask, “How does one really know for sure if God is calling them into His service?”  The short answer is, “I don’t know?”  As I review those early years of my journey, it seems to be more of an accident than a well thought out plan.  However, I believe the principles regarding how God uses a person, whether they are in the ministry or not, are consistent.

The first principle is that you must surrender to God’s leading in your life and love Him with all your might (Mt. 22:37).  Though I fell into my career path by default and decree from my pastor, my heart was in the right place.  I gave my heart to Christ years ago as a kid at Vacation Bible School, and that salvation experience was real.  Though I had lived the life of a prodigal, I never doubted that I was child of God—not even when I openly denied Him.  In my deepest moments of despair and debauchery, I had a secret longing to return to the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.  My resignation to giving my life completely over to him that February night was genuine.  Had I become a football coach (which was actually my lifelong dream), a farmer, or a clerk in a store, my life would have been just as fulfilling because I was committed to Him.  I have never believed that being in ministry was a supreme calling—noble, yes, but no nobler than any other career where one is doing what God has gifted them to do. 

There are some in the church who insist that there is a special call into ministry, and they use Bible personalities from Abraham to the Apostle Paul as their proof-texts.  I concede that God did, and probably still does in rare cases, call out people for special tasks.  I do not believe, however, that a special call is a pre-requisite for all who enter fulltime service.  One needs to be gifted for any task they pursue; but God’s special hand is not on every pastor, missionary, or evangelist.

The ministry has always been on a volunteer basis.  Most who volunteer are people with a deep desire to give their life to Christ to such an extent that they take on ministry as a career (1Tim. 3:1).  To seek a career in ministry, rather than being called to be a pastor, youth director, professor of Greek, or missionary, is not demeaning; in fact, it is pleasing to the Father that His children, through their own free will, desire to serve Him.  

In many ways, the teaching of “a special call for ministry” has been harmful to the church.  Some have abused the call by assuming a position that is not to be challenged--all the while claiming they are chosen by God.  The church would be better served if we abandoned the notion of the call and just accept it for what it is: a profession born out of a desire to serve Him.

(Excerpts from The Journey of a Post Modern Missionary now available on Kindle.