Nowadays for many, ministry is more a career choice than it is a calling. Because of certain individuals and their lifestyles many young people today have unrealistic expectations of what being in ministry entails, and what’s worse they come to the decision of attending seminary or pastoral college based on human reasoning rather than an undeniable call on their lives.
As such the role models of many young ministers are no longer Paul or Stephen or Peter or Philip, or any of the notable servants of God who ran their races faithfully to the end, but rather the pulpit pimps who collect mansions like some people collect baseball cards, who know nothing of suffering or privation, and who believe that the mere title of ‘Pastor’ entitles them to riches beyond the scope of human comprehension.
I’ve met my share of young people who desired to go into ministry, but when I would ask what the driving force behind their decision was, very few gave the right answer. The only right answer as to why someone would pursue ministry is because God has called them to it, and if God has called them to it than their expectations of what their life in ministry will be like will not be private jets, fancy cars and opulent abodes, but rather lifelong, consistent, and perpetual servitude and obedience.
Today I wanted to discuss the realistic expectations we ought to have when God calls us into ministry, when He puts a burden in our hearts and a word on our lips, and when He sends us out to preach the truth to a world that is growing increasingly averse to it.
The first expectation we ought to have when we are called into ministry, is that we will be called upon to deliver a difficult message.
Throughout the Word of God, when God chose a messenger and poured a message into their hearts it was never a feel good message. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the Lord commanded a servant to go and tell the people that they were doing great, nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Lord commanded a servant to go and tell the people that their lives were in keeping with His statutes, but rather every time God sent a messenger it was with a message of repentance, and a warning of coming judgment if said repentance was not evident. God doesn’t pat people on the back, He’s not a politician attempting to get into our good graces by coddling us, He is a righteous God, a holy God, and a God who rebukes in love whenever His children stray.
The second expectation we ought to have when we are called into ministry is that we will be hated, mocked, and ridiculed for the message that we were commanded to deliver.
Some time ago we discussed a man by the name of Jehoiada, who was a priest, and who was able to positively influence the king of that time namely Joash. After his passing, Joash and the people began to worship idols, and serve wooden images, and after sending prophets to the people, to bring them back to the Lord, after the people refused to listen to the words of the prophets, God called Jehoiada’s son Zechariah, to be His mouthpiece and call the people to repentance.
2 Chronicles 24:20, “Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, ‘Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.”
So what was the people’s reaction upon hearing this word from God? Did they rejoice that God had spoken to them? Did they repent, and return to the Lord? Did they pat Zechariah on the back and congratulate him for having the courage to deliver such a difficult message?
2 Chronicles 24:21, “So they conspired against him, and at the commandment of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord.”
So the people’s reaction to the word of the Lord was to kill the messenger that delivered it. They conspired against him, who knows how long, or to what lengths, but in the end the king himself commanded that Zechariah be stoned in the court of the house of the Lord.
As a side note on a tangentially related matter, to the gentleman that wrote me and said he couldn’t receive what I write because God is not into nepotism, that there is no precedent wherein a son followed in his father’s footsteps in ministry, and because my grandfather was a preacher, and because my father is a preacher that somehow excludes me from ministry, Zechariah was the son of Jehoiada, who was a priest in the house of the Lord. Precedent!
No, having a father who is a preacher or a grandfather who was a preacher does not automatically mean you yourself will be called into ministry, but it does not exclude you from being called into ministry either.
Would I have chosen to be in the ministry for myself? Knowing what I knew concerning the toll ministry takes one one’s life, the standard to which God holds His servants, and the hardships one is likely to endure, no I would not have chosen ministry. Lord knows I tried to beg off the call to ministry, Lord knows I tried to pretend as though He was not calling me, Lord knows I tried to find excuses as to why I wasn’t well suited for such a calling, but in the end I had to submit to His will for my life.
The third expectation we ought to have when we are called into ministry is that it will cost us everything.
When God calls you into ministry, your life is forfeit; it is already a foregone conclusion. Live with the expectation that at some point you may even have to lay down your life for the cause of Christ, because anything less than total commitment is unacceptable.
When we live with the knowledge that our lives are already forfeit, the allure of fame, fortune or human praise holds no temptation for us, and our only purpose, our only goal is to be obedient to God and bring glory to His name.
In an hour such as this, I pray that God would call, prepare and equip true servants whose only desire will be to do His will.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.