People often talk about leaving their job to “go into The Ministry,” but this phrase is one of the most damaging and unbiblical statements you could possibly buy into. Going “into The Ministry” infers a two-tier structure where one set of believers operate on a carnal level down below in secular employment while the other is somehow elevated to a higher spiritual plain, but worse than that it actually causes real ministers to leave real ministry.
I once met a young man who was working with youths in his local church. As far as I could see he was doing really well, God was using him to help them and he was benefiting too. Although he had no interest in a denominational career well meaning folk were telling him to “go into the ministry,” which they clearly perceived to be some sort of spiritual promotion. To my horror this very effective and enthusiastic young fellow bought this and was going to walk away from the very youngsters who were benefiting from his help. Far away from any youths he would study for exams and get a title, a plastic card and make everyone who knew him so proud, but where would his ministry and the youths be then? Theological college is a great thing, it helps and equips many people and if you are going to be an expositor or a pastor who has to grasp and teach God’s Word difficult to beat, but how harmful to believe that the only way to be in the ministry is to effectively give up the ministry. Ministry isn’t a position, a title or a certificate, ministry is God flowing through you to others and that means being exactly where those others he wants to touch are!
Real ministry flows out of a relationship with The Lord, it isn’t dependent on whether you are perceived to have a secular job or a spiritual job and it certainly doesn’t have any bearing on whether you are called reverend, pastor or priest. God’s ministry is down to your love for God and your walk with him. Ministry is God moving through you wherever you are to touch others, it is not a separate career that somehow puts you up a rung in the spiritual ladder. In the days of Jesus there were a group of spiritual professionals called the Pharisees who didn’t understand this, they saw ministry in a very different light. We read a lot about these Pharisees because Jesus knew that there will always be people who are more attracted to The Ministry than to him. These career minded people had no real concept of God’s ministry at all, what they enjoyed was the respect their titles brought, the power they could wield and spiritual authority they thought they had, but where was their humility, sense of justice, love for God and ministry to real people?
When I was a pastor I had a ministry, but I had a ministry before I was a pastor and still do now! Having that title never qualified me for ministry, indeed there were times when I had the title, but no ministry. No walk with God equals no ministry, title or not! Should you go into the ministry? Yes, absolutely, but make sure it is God’s ministry and that could mean the pastorate, or staying right where you are now!
Ministry means being yourself.