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Take Your Next Step into Ministry helps prepare a person full-time or tentmaking ministries whether it be missions or the pastorate. God's Next Step for You is the first article and introduces what kind of preparation is needed.
People are being called into ministry all the time. I just heard of a Brazilian physicist and a retired Indian railroad worker who are being called into the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many others have sensed God speaking to them too.
You might be one of them. We all remember Samuel’s call. In the middle of the night he heard God calling him. He needed Eli to clarify some things for him that put him on the right track. Eli’s advice wasn’t anything astonishing. He told Samuel that when God called again he was to tell the Lord “Speak, Lord for thy servant heareth.”
Those who sense a pull in the heart from the Lord often have many questions. They are searching for answers. They are wondering if they are on the right track. We are unable to provide personal answers here in this article, but we do hope to get you on the right track to find the answers that you need.
God deals with each of us differently, and yet He brings each willing servant along a similar pathway. We would like to help you see more clearly the boundaries of that path to both encourage and confirm you on your way.
Our world has secularized the way a person looks for a job or profession. We must refuse the tendency to leave God out of this crucial part of our lives. The Lord is the One who both calls and trains. He is the One who gifts us as well as the One who provides for us. It is for these reasons that every genuine minister of God will have his ear tuned to what God is saying.
One of the first impulses we have when we sense God’s calling upon our lives is to think that we need to make a drastic, radical shift at that very moment. Although it could happen that way, it doesn’t necessarily need to. ￼
First, God touches our hearts and gains our commitment to His plan for our lives. A young boy might dream of being a soldier, but he still needs to grow up before he can wear that uniform. In the same way, we might have a great burden to serve the Lord full-time, but we still have a significant amount of training to go through before the Lord deploys us as full-time missionaries or pastors.
One of the greatest mistakes those who have received God’s call to enter ministry is to think that Bible College or seminary is what qualifies them to serve the Lord. With all those studies, ability to mix with some of the greatest people in the Lord, making many sacrifices, etc., we end up having quite a bit confidence in our ability to make a difference in God’s kingdom.
The Lord does not require formal ministerial training, even though many people around us believe that formal training is necessary. Christian training institutions that we now so acquainted with are, however, a relatively recent innovation along with our modern educational system. Although a seminary can further equip us in some ways, we do ourselves much harm when we equate this kind of training with the training that the Lord wants to provide for our lives. The Lord thinks about His equipping of us for service in a much broader way.
The Lord’s training is holistic; it involves each part of our lives. He is much more interested in building our faith than in any degree we might obtain. I remember when I was readying myself to go on my first short-term trip to Asia.
I was excited and yet realized that I did not even have money for the trip. Excitement would not get me to the mission field. Eventually, the mission called to see whether or not I had the money. Not much had come in. They suggested calling it off, but something in my heart had me pursue this trip. With a little persuasion they granted me two more days. Would you believe that God prompted someone to ask me how my preparation was going and then wonderfully cared for that need the very next day? I was on my way to Asia! God was training my faith.
God is very involved in the process of how He equips us for ￼service or for spiritual growth for that matter. He even trains us through what otherwise would be considered mundane steps of life. One of our biggest mistakes is to think God is not actively working in events like long boring night shifts, attempts to pay off loans, finding a life partner or something trivial like filling out applications.
Even today, I am still encouraged as I remember back on how God intervened in that impossible situation.
Many times when we examine our calling in light of our present situation or qualifications, we get discouraged. There seems to be an insurmountable number of obstacles to prevent us from serving the Lord. Don’t allow these circumstances to discourage you. Instead look at them as opportunities for God to prove His call for your life, both for yourself and others.
God uses financial needs, parental objections, lack of opportunity, difficult neighbors, spousal conflict, etc. to further train us. The Lord is in no hurry. If He were, then He would quickly eliminate the obstacles. Yes, men are perishing without Christ. The mission is urgent. And yet, God wants to properly train us because He wants us to succeed.
The Lord will take the time necessary to carry out that training. If God is patient with the training process, then we should be too. Take a moment right now and tell the Lord that you are willing to wait however long He thinks best before entering full-time service. Consciously allow Him to lead you. Don’t rush things. If we speed up things, we might just miss some critical aspects of that training. Lying on forms or subtly hiding weaknesses would be considered ways we try to ‘speed’ things up.
He may do things very quickly or he may choose to do them very slowly. The most important thing to do is to stay in a learning mode. His training is critical for effective service. You are anticipating His training day by day. Each day becomes, then an exciting training adventure.
We hope this article broadens your understanding on how God might train you. Think of your training as a life–long obstacle course. Although the evil one would want us to fail, God has by His grace given us just what we need to get over all the obstacles that we will face in life.
This is not just true for our spiritual lives but also for all the extra challenges and temptations of ministry. Just trace the Apostle Paul’s life. The training can even increase at the end of one’s ministry!
Next => God's Goals for Us