screen-shot-2013-06-25-at-1450061When faced with a dilemma that challenged his pre-determined plan, Jesus used his calling as a guideline to weigh whether a change of plan would be a distraction from or a contribution to fulfilling the main flow of his calling.

How does this apply to us?
Over the past few months we have been gradually building a serving profile to help people identify those aspects of their lives and personality which they can harness to serve in the church. Leaders should be very committed to getting all their church members into an effective place of service; this is what all are called to do – bear fruit (Jn 15:16). But in addition to this general call, which applies to all believers, some have a very specific call.

Specific calling
A good friend of mine, Gail, carried a call to work with street children for many years before she actually had the opportunity to explore it in practical terms. She took every opportunity to be trained in a wide variety of relevant skills as part of her employment, working with emotionally damaged young people.

In every church there are usually a few people who have a specific sense of calling. Maybe it is to go to a particular nation as a church planter, or to enter politics to address issues of social injustice. Others feel, as Gail did, a call to work with particular people groups, a call that eventually took her to Mexico. When considering someone’s potential serving role in the church it is good for leaders to be aware of any such call. If people can be channelled into a ministry which gives a training opportunity, or even through which that call can be realised, they will be very faithful and fulfilled people. What church leader does not want fulfilled and happy sheep?!

General calling
For others the call may be less specific. As we saw above we have been chosen to bear fruit. We have also been given good works ‘prepared beforehand’ to walk in (Eph 2:10). So, as members of the body of Christ we all have a call. For some this may be expressed through their paid employment – teachers, nurses and so on, the traditional ‘vocations’ (which literally means callings). For others it may be to make a lot of money to advance the Kingdom.

‘Full-time’ in the market place
Many years ago there was a book with a title like ‘Lord, let me give you a million dollars’ (I cannot remember it precisely). The author had trained as a plumber, attended a Baptist seminary in USA and then applied to be a minister. But in order to finance his training he continued to work as a plumber. He developed a special pre-assembly of plumbing fittings that allowed him to install systems quickly. When he failed to be offered a post as a minister someone challenged him to see his plumbing as a call to ‘full time’ ministry. His invention was highly successful and marketed widely. He subsequently became a major source of funding for the ministry of the international evangelist Luis Palau.

There are many ways to serve the advance of the kingdom. When considering how people may serve in the church we must not ignore such people who may even, through their skill and diligence, facilitate more kingdom advance through their wealth than a so-called ‘full-time’ Christian leader.

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