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Part 3 of series: Ivy League Congress: Discerning God’s Call
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More Seeds for Discerning God’s Call to “Ministry”
In my last post I sowed the first two of eleven “seeds” for discerning God’s call to ministry:
1. Laity: All Christians have a high calling as ministers of Christ.
2. Surprise: It’s likely that God will surprise you if you seek his will openly.
Today I’ll scatter a few more seeds.
If we wish to discern God’s call upon our lives, we need to be committed to his sovereignty. In the words of Jesus, we are to seek first the kingdom of God. Everything else follows from this fundamental commitment.
Of course this is much easier said than done. As I write these words, I can honestly say that I desire God’s will and that I am submitted to his sovereignty over my life. But then there’s that part of me that really still wants my will and wants to run my own life. Thus I find myself needing to submit to God again and again. Submission is, after all, the flip side of sovereignty.
No, I’m not planning to take an offering. Stewardship means much more than it often signifies in church. It has to do with using well the gifts, talents, opportunities, relationships, and resources God has given me.
Throughout most of my adult life, I have been relatively sure that I was being a faithful steward of my life. But there have been times when I have wrestled for long periods of time with the stewardship issue. A few years ago, a seminary expressed significant interest in having me become their president. This position offered lots of opportunities for me. But, in the end, I just didn’t believe that the duties of a seminary president were well suited to my personality and gifting. In 2007, the stewardship challenge reared its pesky head once again as Laity Lodge sought to have me join their team. This time, after five months of seeking God’s will, I became convinced that I could best use the gifts God had given me in the context of Laity Lodge’s ministries.
When we’re wondering about God’s call upon our lives, we ought to pay close attention to what he is already blessing. In John 5:19 Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” Similarly, we ought to ask: What is God doing in my life? Where is God at work right now? (Photo: Phillips Brooks House at Harvard, where I did lots of teaching for the Christian fellowship there while I was a student at Harvard.
One of the main reasons I became an ordained minister was that, even before I began the arduous process of becoming ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA, God was using me in ministries of teaching and leadership. I taught my first weekly Bible study when I was in high school, and had been consistently teaching in church and/or parachurch organizations ever since. The fact that God was blessing my ministry of teaching was strong evidence that he was leading me into a more focused calling as a teacher.
When people come to me, wondering if they are being called into ordained ministry, some of my very first questions are: What are you doing in ministry right now? Are you doing things that pastors do? Is God blessing these activities? If a person can answer “yes” to these questions, this is a positive sign. If not, then I encourage people to start doing pastor-like ministries and see what God does with them.
I’m just about half way through my list of “seeds” for discerning God’s call to ministry. More later . . . .