111. WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT OBEYING GOD’S CALL IN MINISTRY
(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)
I have been deeply touched by the true story of the late Gladys Alyward, a British woman who felt that God was calling her to go to China as a missionary. She attended classes to learn Chinese but was given up as hopeless by the missionary group that was teaching Chinese, when she could not pass their examinations. In their minds, they had most likely concluded that she would never go to China, would never do anything great there for God and that that was not her call. After all, she couldn’t even pass the Chinese examinations!
Determined and fueled by the passion that God had placed inside her even before she attended any one of those classes, Gladys, the Chinese class reject and one that kept on flunking the examinations, decided that, whether she was supported or not, she was going to China, even if it meant going by her self. She did not have much financial resources but she worked at a humble job as a Maid, so as to save for her travel fare. In time, she had sufficient funds for her trip and she embarked upon her destination.
While on her way to China, she faced peril but God delivered her from those who were plotting to abduct her. When she arrived in China, the elderly Christian lady who took her in and got her busy working in preparation for Ministry, died within about one year after. In God’s divine plan, it appeared that Gladys was therefore THE replacement for this elderly lady, although she had not known it at the time when she birthed the vision. The elderly lady had apparently been praying for God to send someone to help her with the work of Ministry, in that country.
Gladys went on to do mighty things in China for the Lord and faced many further perils, like war and invasion by the Japanese, a ‘WANTED’ dead or alive Circular with her name on it, having to flee for her life with 100 children she had adopted, for days, falling seriously ill soon after this ordeal but then by the grace of God, recovering.
Amazingly, wherever she went, whether she was fleeing for her life or not, the gospel got spread. I don’t know if she ever had aspirations of marriage. It has not been mentioned. Maybe she did not. Whether or not she had, she never got married and never birthed children of her own, although she adopted many.
You can feel free to read about her story in detail by simply googling her name on the internet.
In hearing about her story on the Harbour Light Online Radio station based in Grenada and then reading about it online and having observed the experiences of others and even my own self, I have learned some things about Ministry that I think are worth sharing.
All Christians have been called by Jesus, generally, to serve him, by spreading love and the gospel of salvation. Based on the individual gifts and specific talents he gives to each of us though, I have realized that he usually calls us further to serve him in the general commission or mandate, by doing specific things.
In obeying God’s call, this is what you need to know about Ministry:
1. You can’t make Ministry about yourself
If you do, you will become bitter when self is not being promoted or receiving what you think is good or fair wages or a reward for what you are doing or when you do good and suffer or receive no support, even from those closest to you.
2. You can’t allow Ministry to make you develop expectations
Doing Ministry gives you no rights. You are not entitled to anything. Jesus has already saved you by paying the ultimate price for your sins on the cross and you did not deserve it. You ought not to expect that in spreading the gospel, which is your reasonable service for what Jesus has done, that you should be rewarded while here on earth. If God decides to do so, then great but if he does not, he is still great and worthy of serving. There may be things that are dear to your heart that you wish you could obtain in this life yes but obeying God’s call in Ministry does not guarantee that these things will be granted to you.
3. You can’t think that Ministry will immunize you from adversity and suffering
You are still prone to sickness, danger, attacks, oppression, abuse, opposition and even death. God remains in control and nothing can happen to you unless he allows it but don’t think that he will allow you to glide through life with glass slippers because you are obeying the call. In fact, the Bible tells all Christians that they are called to suffer, so it is inevitable.
In fact, if you are doing what God wants you to do or trying to get there and the enemy does not try to fight or oppose you, then maybe you should reconsider if you are really on the right path. In Ministry, the right path is never usually the one strewn with roses but thorns. Psalm 126:6 aptly puts it: “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
4. You can’t make Ministry make you stop growing
You have not reached. There is still room for your spiritual development, learning and growth. Never allow your teaching others to make you unteachable. You have no excuse to become stunted, no excuse to become self-righteous, no excuse to be puffed up and no excuse to think that you cannot fall.
Always remain guarded therefore, humble and abiding in Christ. Keep sitting at the feet of the Master where you will be replenished and sustained. Don’t ever become too cumbered with much serving, as Martha did in Luke 10:38-42, when Jesus paid a visit to she and her sister Mary.
5. You can’t become more preoccupied with Ministry than with your relationship with God
Relationship is the most important thing. If you are not continuously drawing from the well of life which is Jesus, by praying, praising him and meditating on his Word, not just to share with others but for yourself and the sake of your relationship, then what you do loses its value and significance.
It may be reaching people and God can still use it but you have become distracted and need to refocus. The beauty of true Ministry is that it flows out of a genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ his Son. Without relationship and the continuous refueling of same, what you do is downgraded to mere ‘activities’. Spending time in God’s presence therefore, must always be first place and Ministry second.
6. You can’t assume that because God equipped you, that there will be support for your Ministry
If you get people to buy-in to what you believe is your God-given vision, in line with you gifts and talents and the wealth of what you know God has placed inside of you, then that is great. However, in this less than ideal world, this is sometimes not the case. You may have little or no supporters and nobody may believe that God will do in your life what you believe he is doing or about to do.
Operating in your calling does not mean that you will get a whole heap of supporters. Sometimes, your own family members, Church family and acquaintances, have trouble seeing you for all that God created you to be.
As Jesus said in the Bible, a Prophet is not recognized in his own country. People have a tendency to limit us based on their own prejudices and their internally flawed models of how a ‘great’ man or woman of God should be. They tend to limit us based on how we look, how we speak, how they feel about us, our family backgrounds, our past and our ordinariness but nobody is too ordinary to be used by God to do the extraordinary and nobody gets a say as to who God will choose to use, to do just that.
You don’t need to be highly articulate to be used by God. Moses was a man who stuttered and yet God chose him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. You don’t need to be an intellectual, to pass earthly examinations or study for earthly degrees or to obtain any other kind of pedigree, before God can use you and mightily so. He does not call the qualified. He specializes in qualifying the called.
The Bible is full of examples of the societal misfits which he called, qualified and then used. He is able to use any person that truly loves him and has an unwavering commitment to his cause because of the anointing he has given to that person.
As 1 John 2:27 rightly puts it:
“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
7. You can’t allow people’s opinions to make you distracted
Whether people support your vision or not is irrelevant. What they think of you, without seeing your heart and knowing all the facts about your story, has no bearing on your mission. Focus!
It is important that YOU know of how far you’ve come in the Lord on your journey and where you are going. It is important that YOU know and be convinced of what he has placed in you, what he has told you and the purpose he has given you.
Remain passionate about your God-given dreams. If it is of God, it will come to pass, no matter what anybody thinks. The destination is sure once God is backing you. Be sure of yourself, your talents, your gifts and your creativity therefore. God did not give them to you for you to keep to yourself and become spiritually obese but to share with the world, in such a manner, that Jesus (not yourself) is promoted.
Never allow anyone to cause you to doubt your call or to make you think that you are not good enough or that maybe you heard wrong. Life is short. You don’t have time for distractions. If you are supported, give God praise. If you are not, ask God to not make you become bitter, resentful, unforgiving, discouraged or depressed and give God praise any way.
How far you will go in God’s Kingdom agenda and the fruit that you will bear will not be determined by or predicated on what people think of you but what you think of yourself.
When the roll is called up yonder, you don’t want to tell God that you did not do what you knew he wanted you to do because certain people did not believe in you. Things may get difficult and there will be doubting Thomases but by the grace of God, for the love of Christ and the Glory of the Kingdom, press on!
(Written on 13th August, 2018)