I want to put a challenge before you – are you ready? Okay, here we go! Pull out your Strong’s Concordance and look up the term ‘full time ministry’. I’m willing to award a prize to the one who finds the most references. As a matter of fact, I’ll gladly give an expensive gift to anyone who can produce one instance where that exact terminology is used anywhere in the original languages!
Let me save you some time. There is not one person in the entire Bible that is referred to as being in full time ministry! Isn’t it amazing how frequently we hear the phrase ‘full-time ministry’ and it’s not even found once in the Word of God? Perhaps we need to ask the Lord for a more Biblical paradigm.
Imagine the following scenario: There are two 30-year-old men standing in front of you. One of them is serving in a third world country and has diligently raised support so that he and his family could serve as missionaries for the next five years. The other man is a fireman in a city that is growing. This man is committed to being a Godly husband to his wife and father to his children. The amount of money that he makes is irrelevant to him as long as he keeps the Lord first in his life and is a witness for Jesus every moment of the day.
With the above scenario in mind, it’s unfortunate, according to the way many of us look at things, that the man in the third world country is considered in ‘full-time ministry’ whereas the fireman would be considered working a ‘secular job’ (by the way, the term ‘secular job’ isn’t found in the Bible either!).
Although this may sound a little confrontational and may ruffle some feathers, I believe that the term ‘full time ministry’ needs to be entirely eradicated from our vocabulary due to the unbiblical connotation that it portrays! Because it’s Jesus that has commissioned us, we are all called to be His witnesses whether we serve as a pastor or a plumber. The Lord doesn’t look down from heaven and recognize us by whether we’re in full-time ministry or not! We’re all His children and called to serve Him!
I’m continually grieved when I run into people who have given into the whisper of the enemy, who has convinced them that they’re not living up to their potential because they are settling for working a job that this age considers secular. There is a whole group of people who are reading this right now who feel like failures because they graduated from a Bible college or a school of ministry and are not employed by a ‘church’ or ‘ministry’.
Think of Moses for a moment…was he ever employed by a church or ministry? He lived within the confines of Godless Pharaoh’s house for the first 40 years of his life and then worked his tail off as a shepherd on the back side of the desert for the next 40 years. He was never written up in a magazine for his potential as one of the up-and-coming history makers of his generation. How sad it is that if he were alive today, many of our modern-day leaders would pay no attention to him because he wasn’t ‘in the ministry’. As a matter of fact, depending on where he went to church, he might even be rebuked for wasting the best years of his life!
Just this morning I was on the phone with a graduate from a ministry school who really felt that the Lord would one day have his family serving as missionaries in a foreign country. So, he quit his job (which, by the way, was a great source of income for his growing family) and prepared to make the next step toward the mission field. I listened intently as he shared with me that it seemed like the Lord was calling him back to his previous job because the time was not yet right to move overseas.
At this point, some of you might say, “Well, he just needs to step out in faith and do it because God’s word says, ‘Go!’” Although there is great truth in that statement, there is yet an underlying truth that requires us to not abort the preparation process so that when we do go, we are not going with our own power, but rather in the power of the One who has commissioned us.
It’s amazing to me that Jesus Himself, the Son of God, didn’t launch into His ultimate calling until He was thirty years of age! Looking at that from a worldly kind of wisdom, you might say that some of those youthful years could have been better spent seeing the dead raised and the blind eyes opened. After all, He would have gotten a tremendous head start on a ‘successful ministry’ if He began earlier.
Amazingly, when the Lord trumpeted from heaven that “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”, Jesus had not yet done anything that modern-day Christianity would refer to as ‘ministry’. God was pleased with His Son simply because He was a Son. That, my friends, is a truth that we must all embrace!
The value of our lives to our Creator is not based on what we do but rather on who we are! I want to encourage all of you that Father God loves you not for what you can produce for Him but simply because you are His son and daughter. Our ultimate eternal destiny on this earth is to glorify the Lord by being a demonstration of the Kingdom of God. That must take place as we preach, as we wait on tables, as we drive a taxi cab, as we teach kindergarten, as we practice law, as we counsel, as we mow lawns, as we break bread together, as we fish, as we fight fires, as we sell real estate, as we flip hamburgers, as we raise our children, as we…
I think you’re getting the picture. Be a demonstration of the Kingdom of God wherever it is that He has you serving. And, if you have yet to see His promises for your life fulfilled, keep hanging on to those things which He has spoken, remembering that “faithful is He who calls you, He will also bring it to pass”!