So You Want to Be in Ministry

October 24, 2015

“I think I’m called to ministry.”

“Full-time ministry would be so much more fulfilling than my secular job!”

“I can’t wait to start my ministry.”

I grew up going to church at least four times a week, and I’ve attended two Bible colleges. In these environments, I’ve heard many statements similar to the ones above. The desire to work in God’s kingdom is a noble thing, yet when it comes to ministry, I think we often miss the point.

“I think I’m called to ministry.” 

All Christ-followers are called to ministry.

Ephesians 2:10 says we’re created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Mark 9:35 says we should be servants to all. Matthew 28:19-20 instructs us to teach the whole world Jesus’ commandments. These scriptures are about ministry, and they aren’t directed at pastors; they’re directed at Christ-followers.

Most of us are familiar with these passages and may even be able to quote them from memory. But I have to wonder: these scriptures may be embedded in our brains, but are they embedded in our hearts?

We know the word minister means to attend to another person’s needs. But how many of us actually view ministry that way? When we think of ministry, do we imagine ourselves reaching for the hand of a homeless woman who hasn’t bathed in weeks, or do we see ourselves standing in front of an audience with a Bible? Do we think about spending an afternoon with a lonely elder, or do we see envision ourselves chaperoning the youth group’s trip to Six Flags?

The day-to-day functions of ministers’ and youth pastors’ jobs are important. God’s Word is essential, and it must be taught. But ministry is so much more than presenting a Bible lesson to a group of churched people in a comfy building. Ministry is service, and service is selflessness. And whether or not a Christian feels a call to ministry, the call is there.

“Full-time ministry would be so much more fulfilling than my secular job.”

Contrary to what some believe, living a Spirit-filled, Christ-centered life is not just about escaping a dark horrible eternity without God (though that’s definitely an incentive!). An apostolic Christian lifestyle is a new way of seeing and experiencing the world while we’re here on earth. A new Christian should feel like a butterfly on its first flight. Can you imagine how different the world must look to a butterfly outside the dark confines of its cocoon? When we’re spiritually reborn, our perception and vision should be just as fresh and full of wonder. We shouldn’t view life the way everyone else does. Our values shouldn’t be the same; the bigger picture should be different. We aren’t given new life so that we can selfishly revel in it until death do we part; we’re meant to share our hope and joy.

Sometimes we think sharing the gospel is all about preaching. A spoken testimony is powerful, but how much more is a consistent, Christ-like lifestyle and attitude? The workplace gives plenty of opportunities to reflect and advertise Christ: cursing customers, pouting coworkers, power-happy bosses, hurting people . . . If your line of work brings you in contact with living souls, you have opportunities to minister.

I love this passage from Rob Peabody’s book Citizen:

“Are we artists, baristas, teachers, electricians, engineers, students, or factory workers who also just happen to be citizens of the Kingdom? Or are we, first of all, citizens of the Kingdom who happen to serve vocationally in these ways? . . . When this lens is used, we can clearly see that a job as a banker can be just as glorifying to God and just as Kingdom-focused as the life of a missionary out witnessing every day.”

Working a secular job is not a waste of your time (especially if you have bills to pay!). For some, it’s a larger, hungrier mission field than what some full-time pastors will ever see. If you view your encounters with customers and your exchanges with coworkers as opportunities to shine God’s light–to exemplify godly living, Christian attitudes, and the fruit of the Spirit–then you can go to work each day planning to put in a full day’s ministry.

“I can’t wait to start my ministry.”

If you ever hear these words escape someone’s mouth, tell him he shouldn’t wait!

Ministerial opportunities are all around us: at the grocery store, in rush-hour traffic, at the office, at school, on the jogging path . . . None of us has a good reason to delay ministry. None of us has an excuse to be afraid of ministry. Even having a shy, non-confrontational temperament shouldn’t get in the way of ministry because ministry is service, and service, while sometimes requiring sacrifice, isn’t confrontational or in-your-face. It usually isn’t even all that hard.

Ministry is selfless. It is rooted in a faithful walk with God. It is a product of being sensitive to His voice. Ministry is a lifestyle–a lifestyle of loving people, and then loving them some more–even (and especially!) when you won’t get recognition for it.