You will receive a calling. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live or for as long as God desires, whichever is shorter. The manner in which you regard your calling or fail to regard your calling may make an enormous difference in the quality of your life and ministry.
Your calling is not the same as anyone else’s. Therefore you can’t compare the calling you have received with those of others. Some are called to uproot and destroy; others are called to destroy and overthrow; and others to build and to plant (Jeremiah 1:8).
You are not in total control. Instead, each day, you will be presented with opportunities to fail, suffer, reflect, and learn. The opportunities may be painful. You may refuse some of these opportunities. However, if you do, you will also refuse a profound growth in faith and understanding that comes only through pain.
Most lessons will have to be repeated. Since you will never “arrive” at perfect mastery of all areas of your life and ministry, God will graciously provide additional opportunities to learn the lessons you need to learn. Additional lessons will be scheduled with or without your consent. Lessons will be repeated until the appropriate lessons are learned and God’s objectives for these lessons achieved.
You will not be able to choose your lessons. God has a specific plan for you. As the Teacher, He will determine the curriculum, the course content, and the material. All lessons will come due at His choosing. He will also write and administer the tests. When completed, only His evaluation will be of any real consequence.
You will make mistakes…some very big. You will make bad decisions. You will commit errors of timing. You will have good intentions that go sour. Members will leave…sometimes in droves because of your mistakes, miscommunications, and well-intended misjudgments. Though this may cause extreme sorrow and sadness, remember that it happened to Jesus, too. Just rejoice that you will probably never lose as many followers as Jesus during His earthly ministry (cf. John 6, et al).
You will be given a ministry that is designed to test and increase your faith. Since ministry is one of the best testing grounds for Christians, God will test your faith in this ministry privately and publicly. Your congregation will provide God with virtually limitless testing opportunities for you. Such testing may cause intense periods of loneliness and pain. However, You can also expect that during these times God will freely draw from His limitless resources to shape your Christian character, behaviors, attitudes and values in your ministry as–and when–He sees fit.
The grass is always greener where you are now. God did not promise to be with you in the bigger, better church in your denomination. His promise is to be with you where you are now. Thus, to imagine that the grass is greener in some other church is to think that God is somewhere else—not where you are. Don’t be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what you have. There are no trouble-free churches. When God is ready for you to change to a different ministry grass, don’t worry–He’ll put you there. In the meantime, the only ministry for you to be concerned with is the calling God has given you today.
The greater your difficulties in ministry, the greater the potential for God to do a great work where you are. Since the greatest works of God are often seen in contrast to how it used to be, to patiently endure a difficult church is likely your best chance to see just how powerfully God can work in your ministry.
What you make of your ministry is not really up to you. You have all the tools and resources that God knows you need. He will determine your level of success, recognition and achievement. Though you may set goals, you may or may not attain them. In spite of everything that may hinder you, you must have persistence. Persistence, after all, is the twin partner of faith.
You will need God’s forgiveness…probably more than anyone else in your ministry. Ordination did not make you holy or make you immune from the frailties of sin. Instead, it more likely has subjected your to greater temptation. When you sin consider it God’s way of reminding yourself and others that God works through sinners–even ordained ones–who need His totally undeserved forgiveness every single moment of their lives. It is your regularly repeated experience of God’s gracious forgiveness that will remind you to willingly forgive others.
Whatever happens, the most important thing is that you continually guard and grow in your total, absolute faith in God. Everything else is secondary. Since this is the major focus of your ministry to others, wouldn’t it be the most tragic thing if you were to lose your passion, faith and trust in God’s gracious leading in your life?
Thomas F. Fischer
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