I was having a conversation with a pastor who was also writing about this issue of the “divine call”. He said “I tell people that they don’t want to go anywhere near ordained/licensed ministry unless they are clear God is calling them. That warm, exuberant, passionate emotion for christian ministry may or may not be God calling.“ Another young minister said to me that he didn’t realize how much of a challenge the ministry would be and how much of a cost it would exact from he and his family. A childhood friend of mine was just ordained to the office of pastor. On her Facebook page I offered this scripture (Hebrews 5:1-4) as a word of encouragement and challenge:
“Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.”
Answering the call of God is no small matter – it costs you your life. As I continue to think on God’s call of Moses, I see a pattern of deconstruction for reconstruction that is necessary for anyone who will be effectively used of God.
Here I am (Ex. 3:4)- God may call, but that doesn’t mean that we have to answer the phone (or in Moses’ case, the bush). Answering the call begins with the simple, but frightening step of making yourself available to God. Most of us sense God’s gentle nudges towards our purpose, but sometimes we think that if we ignore Him long enough, He’ll get tired and leave us alone. It’s not until we yield our will (”Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening“) that God can begin to use us. But this yielding sets in motion a grinding, humbling, uncomfortable process of deconstruction.
Who am I (Ex. 3:11) – A new friend, Mo, is participating in a leadership development/spiritual formation program in our church. In response to my inquiry as to how it was going, she said, ”I am lost. I don’t know I am anymore.“ She went on to explain how God was challenging everything she thought she knew about herself. Becoming business partners with God can be dangerous to your self esteem. His greatness and perfection make us painfully aware of our own impotence and lack of qualifications. (”Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.“ Isaiah 6:5). When you yield to God and begin to experience His unfolding plan for your life, it can be overwhelming. But this is a necessary and unavoidable step. In the absence of this self-emptying, we will become self-important. We will rely on our own intelligence, talents and plans rather than wholly leaning on God.
Someone has said that because God creates ex nihilo, out of nothing, He must first reduce His servants to nothing before He rebuilds and uses them for His glory.
God spent four decades humbling and preparing Moses for his destiny. What a contrast between 40 year old self-sufficient leader and the 80 reluctant servant!
We are not ready to be used by God until we are convinced that he have nothing to give Him. Our call continues with a reconstructing of a worldview on the foundation of a self-existent God.
I AM (Ex. 3:14) – God has not called me because I have so much to offer Him, but because He has so much to offer me. I must reorient my sense of self and purpose around who He is and what He wants to do (”He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.“ (John 3:30 NLT). My purpose is to serve Him and bring Him glory, not the other way around. When we looked at and lived life from our own vantage point, knowledge began with our own personal ideas and efforts. But Proverbs 1:7 tells us that ”the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge… .“ We live for years being indoctrinated with a worldview that tells us that we are the center of the universe and that we are the captains of our own destinies. Being a servant of God requires a deconstruction of that flawed philosophy and a reconstruction of a life built on the foundation of the great ”I AM.“ Anything less is bound to fail.
Do you agree or disagree that this is a process that every person called into ministry must engage?
What did or does this process look like for you?
Is it a one time deal?
Please add your voice to the conversation.