Pastor, what is your unique calling in God’s kingdom?
Paul was God’s Apostle to the Gentiles; Peter was called to serve the Jews (Galatians 2:8). Moses was called to lead the people from Egyptian slavery to the promised land; Joshua was called to lead them into that land. John the Baptist was called to “make straight the way of the Lord” in preparation for Jesus’ ministry (John 1:23). Jesus was called “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
What is your unique kingdom assignment?
How would you fill in the blank: My ministry is _______________?
I am not referring to your call to be a pastor. This is specific versus other vocations, but not specific enough. As you know, pastors can focus primarily on preaching, teaching, pastoral care, leadership, evangelism, and a host of other specific priorities.
Within your pastoral calling, what is your unique assignment?
What are you doing that only you can do?
What should you be doing that only you can do?
What God has been saying to me
I ask these questions because the Lord has been asking them of me in recent days.
I have been going through a season of focused refinement, days when I have been seeking clarity in my calling. I have known for years that I was called to speak truth to culture, but lately the Lord has been leading me to be more specific: How am I to speak such truth? What truth? What aspects of culture? In what ways am I to address them?
I have sensed that I am to focus on the largest, most crucial issues we face today. I am to address them boldly from Scripture, “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) with compassion but also with clarity and courage. I sense an urgency in my work on a new level. I feel myself drawn to be a “watchman” for our nation with God’s injunction, “Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 3:17).
I have also been learning that such focus is life-giving for me personally. Jesus’ statement, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34), has been resonating in my spirit.
I say all of this to illustrate my questions for you today. Within all you can do in your calling, what should you do?
If you could do only one thing to serve your Lord today, what should it be?
An actor on a stage?
Our culture stands opposed to this conversation from two directions.
One is the postmodern denial of a metanarrative, an overarching purpose to life.
Many agree with Martin Heidegger that we are actors on a stage with no script, audience, or director. In his view, courage is to face life as it is. The existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre titled his most famous play No Exit and his first novel Nausea.
In this telling, you have no personal calling from God, no reason to exist beyond today.
The other enemy of our conversation is the utilitarian claim that truth is what benefits the greatest number of people.
In this view, success is measured by popularity, performance, and possessions. Do what people want you to do and they will do what you want them to do. Fulfill your ministry by pleasing people.
“The secret of going with Jesus”
The first step in fulfilling our kingdom assignment is identifying that assignment and seeking to fulfill it each day. The second is seeking the help of the One who made that assignment, knowing that we can do God’s work only with God’s provision.
Oswald Chambers observed: “If God gives a clear and emphatic realization to your soul of what he wants, do not try to keep yourself in that relationship by any particular method, but live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live the life with God on any other line than God’s line, and that line is absolute devotion to him. The certainty that I do not know—that is the secret of going with Jesus.”
We must know Christ before we can make him known. Our first kingdom assignment is an intimate relationship with our King. Then we become the change we wish to see.
As Chambers noted, “Before God’s message can liberate other souls, the liberation must be real in you.”
How God measures success
The story is told of a time Mother Teresa was opening a new orphanage and a press conference broke out. A reporter shouted the question, “How will you measure the success of this?”
The tiny Albanian nun smiled into the glare of the cameras and said, “I don’t believe our Lord ever spoke of success. He spoke only of faithfulness in love.”
When we do only what we can do, God does what only he can do.
Such a partnership can change the world, beginning with our souls today.