Posts tagged calling
When I was younger, I had aspirations to change the world. I felt as though I had a blank canvas before me. What would I do with my life? I knew I didn’t want to waste it with drink or folly. I knew since about the age of sixteen that I was meant to work with people. I dreamed of making my impact on the world. Would I one day write a best seller? Would I invent a new form of therapy that would benefit thousands suffering with mental or emotional woes? How would I make my mark? I hoped it would be big.
It seems when we are young we have a desire to impact a lot of people; to change the face of the planet is it were. For some, life’s many distractions get in the way. For others, disillusionment sets in and they begin to feel that the world is broken beyond repair. They begin to view the world as an old, abandoned, worn down house. What does it matter if another window gets broken in the house? Its dilapidated, forgotten, and most don’t care anyway. Yet, for many, the older we get the desire to see the world change around us still resides within, but the sheer scope of our desire seems overwhelming. How can we change the world? Problems abound. People hurt. Tragedy strikes. Kids suffer abuse. The poor go hungry. Changing the world is harder than we thought. Our youthful idealism and exuberance begin to seem naive.
So how do we change the world? Is that desire still in you? Maybe the mention of it has awoken dreams long given up on. While its true that some do impact the world across time zones and hemispheres, most never will. We all know that the odds of our doing something to make a global impact is dismal, but as Christians, we are called nonetheless to change the world.
I think everyone falls into one of three camps when it comes to changing the world. There are those who have long given up and stopped trying. There are those who are changing the world right now, though they don’t know it. Then, there are those who understand the weight of their significance and are embracing their calling.
We may not change the world on a global scale, but we can change our immediate world. In doing so, the rest of the world is impacted. Often even, we might influence someone that directly changes the global footprint. Recently, my mom kept my children while I was mowing a widow in our churches grass. As I was slaughtering weeds like Paul Bunyen felled trees, I thought to myself, “My mom is mowing the grass too.” The fact that she kept my kids allowed me to help someone that needed it. So, her service to me my by watching my kids, was also a service to this woman in need. Furthermore, it was also a service to Christ because He said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” It’s like a domino effect. My mom helped me, so I could help someone else, and in doing that, her service was to Christ.
As I continued to work on grooming this yard, I began to think of how interrelated our helping others turns into them impacting the world further. For example, Charles Stanley had Sunday School teachers of his own. Little did they know that they were teaching a man who would reach millions one day with his own preaching. Alexander Flemming, who discovered Penicillin, had grade school teachers that impacted him. The wonderful writings of C.S. Lewis, were influenced heavily by the lesser known author, George MacDonald. We might also think if the millions of children who do wonderful things with their lives only because they had loving parents that poured their lives into them, or perhaps the Christians that travel to foreign lands after sitting under their preacher for years.
Often, we never give thought to the small influence and impact we make on others. Through our pouring our lives into a few people around us, we may ultimately impact thousands. We have a large calling and responsibility. We are to invest in the people around us!
Have we given up on changing the world? It’s time to reengage. Have we thought our significance small? Then we need to remember that what we do for a few goes on to impact a multitude. Who can we invest in? How can we help those around? We all have a calling and a mission.
Jesus used twelve men to turn this world upside down. He believed in the principle of compounding interest. Invest in a few people, who then invest in a few more, and so on. As this chain grows the world finds itself different. The problem comes when we ditch our calling to influence those around us and break a piece of the chain.
It starts at home. We need to invest in our kids and marriages. Then our relationships in the community and marketplace. As we all do this, we might just find that we have changed the world. In doing so, we have also served Jesus Christ as we were called to.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
The thoughts being purged through my fingers by the dim light of my computer screen are the culmination of many things. I briefly want to discuss my thoughts in relation to being “called to ministry.” My thoughts in this area started to grow out of a conversation that a dear friend and I had about our experience in feeling the need to vocationally preach the Gospel and become ministers. Recently, he shared a blog with me that echoed our conversation from about a year ago.
I have heard many people say that one “must be called” to ministry. I understand what they are saying to a certain degree because some things are a fit for people and other things aren’t. In this sense, I was not “called to sports” because I am not an incredibly athletic person. I have also heard people say when someone asks them to serve in a particular form or fashion that they “don’t feel called to do that.” What does that mean exactly? Are they ill equipped? Do they lack the desire? Is it an excuse? I know I have used the phrase as a wonderful Christian cop-out that politely says “I don’t want to be a part of that but I want to look good.”
So what does it mean to be called? I have heard people spiritualize “the call to ministry” as if it was reminiscent of the scene in the Star Wars film where Luke and Obi-Wan stumble across a holographic image contained in R2-D2 where Princess Leia proclaims “help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” I never received my hologram from God. The sky never split where God said, “Hey Josh, it is high time you become a minister.” I never randomly opened the Bible and put my finger on a random verse that said, “Go and preach the Gospel into all the nations.”
So how did that “calling” come? Before I share how I came to become a minister please allow me to share something I read from Andy Stanley (who is certainly one of my hero’s) not too long ago. Andy and his Father, Charles Stanley (maybe you have heard of him, maybe), had a conversation one day as the drove down the road. Andy asks Charles, “Dad, does a person have to be called into ministry, or can they just volunteer?” Charles pondered this question for a few moments and responded, “Well, I guess it is okay to volunteer.” So Andy did just that. He volunteered. No fanfare. Fairly anti-climactic. He simply volunteered to become a minister, and he has done some very significant things for the kingdom of Christ.
Back to my experience in this area. I grew up in a pastor’s home. Essentially, I have been tied to ministry in some form or fashion for most of my life. As a child and adolescent the last thing I wanted to do was be a pastor, preacher, etc. My plan was to major in psychology, get a M.A. in psychology, become a licensed professional counselor, and minister to people by helping them work through their difficulties in life. I started down this path and it was, and still is, and incredible journey. After pulling away from God, making a few bad decisions, and then drawing closer to God amidst sorting through some things in my life I found myself wanting to serve in a greater capacity. I then started reading more and devoting more time to spiritual pursuits. I felt a gap I had created between God and myself begin to narrow because, after all, God never moves away from us. Instead, it is we who move away from God. My family and I would watch DVD’s of preaching in the evening, sometimes for several hours. One night while we were watching sermon after sermon, message after message, and series after series, I realized I also wanted to volunteer. I wanted to volunteer to preach and teach. In some ways, I was naive. Not realizing the difficulty, frustration, heartache, and even loneliness that comes at times with becoming involved in ministry. On the converse side, it is also incredibly rewarding and exciting to be a part of what God does in other people’s lives. Tonight all of these thoughts caved in on me as I watched a sermon that I go back to from time to time that I have on DVD that ministers to me in a significant way. It reminded me of when I first realized that I wanted to serve Christ through preaching. I know I am suppose to preach, teach, help others with their difficulties and share insight with others. If someone gave me a million dollars tomorrow, I would still do these exact same things only in a different capacity. This lets me know I am doing what I should be.
So what am I trying to say exactly? Only this. We all have our unique set of talents, gifts, abilities, interests and passions. If we wait for a hologram to be projected in the air, we will never serve. It’s okay to volunteer. We are all called to serve Christ in some capacity. So what are you good at? What are your passions? What do you feel interested in? Harness these things for the cause of Christ! Ministry and serving God cuts across all vocations. Don’t wait to be asked. We are all commanded to serve.
Just remember. It is alright to volunteer.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31
Walk Good. Live Wise. Be Blessed.