In Ephesians 4:1 Paul says this....
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called...." [the New American Standard Bible (1995)] The King James version uses the word "vocation" but it is better understood as "calling." It is a reference to the general calling of grace that the first three chapters have described. So all Christians have a "calling" and we're to walk accordingly.
Roman Catholic writer Michael Novak wrote a book on 'Business as a Calling' in which he presented four aspects of a "calling." [His idea was in the context of business remember.] He said a calling will have ...
1) An understanding that it is a personal and unique calling to you....
2) A requirement for the talents needed for the task and a love for the drudgery that may be involved in the task to which you're called....
3) The presence of an enjoyment for and renewed energies from the doing of the task that is your calling....
4) A period of discernment and testing for [learning all about] the task to which you're called.
I would think, in the Ephesians 4 context, our calling, which is to the same "Lord" Paul said he was a prisoner of in verse one and that "Lordship" calling is for EVERY true believer, might have the same characteristics about it...
1) It IS personal and unique to each of us...
2) We HAVE been gifted for our Life in Him...
3) There IS joy unspeakable in our life in Him and strength provided for the living of life...
4) We then spend the rest of our lives learning what life is all about by "hearing Him" as commanded of the Father. As I said, not bad!
I would also add what someone else has called a "fifth aspect" of a true calling and it is..
5) An orientation away from self so our goal would be the glory of God and the good of others in all things. That makes it even better.
It is obvious from all this that I believe we as Christians have accepted the universal vocation [calling] of following Christ and Novak's ideas can be seen as relevant to that task/life.
But... is there in life a calling to a more specific vocation for all of us through which we make a living, provide for our families and, generally, live out our days on earth?
In other words, are we "called" to a career? And if we are, how do we know what we are to do for a career or livelihood? Add to that the question... is the "calling" to "full-time ministry" [career] a GREATER calling than the calling to other careers?
It is this that concept that I'm addressing today.
Since I believe ALL of life is sacred and there is NO division in scripture between the sacred and the secular [See 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.] I think we are to view ANYTHING we choose to do in life as a "calling." A better way of saying it is we are to see anything we choose to do as an opportunity to "life-out our Lordship calling." Choose anything you wish, but see it as a commitment to express His life in you and understand that what you do choose is a gift from Him to you.
Someone may be saying "Wait a minute Brother Paul, it sounds like you're saying we can choose however we wish in matters of life instead of finding God's specific will in those matters." I am. The only WILL God has revealed to you and me specifically is that we are to live as what we are...'Sanctified people." [1 Thess. 4:3 the rest of the chapter shows what that looks like.]
When we are committed to Him as Lord we will reflect that in whatever we choose. Our life is not to be lived trying to find out what He wishes we would do in each decision but, rather, in celebrating who He is as our Lord and making ANY decision accordingly.
So, I say marry whomever you choose, go to whatever University you wish, get whatever degree you desire, and live doing wherever you long to live doing. But in EVERY CHOICE YOU MAKE, see it as that which allows you to be effective for God in this world and bring glory to Him and good for other people. Your vocation or marriage or career or whatever, will only allow you to establish God's order and virtue in your life and to assist other people to do the same. This is Christianity to me.
This isn't to say that there isn't an eternal and secret will that God is working out for us in His Divine Purposes. But it is to say that, by definition, that will is "secret" and we'll understand in all only in "eternity." Don't worry. You won't miss God in decisions. He really is in control. He's unique that way.
By the way, as to whether a "calling to full-time ministry" is more sacred than anyone else's, my answer is NO. It is different. It is unique to the one called. There are greater responsibilities for certain areas of life affected by that calling. But remember, all that is true of every christian's life, as well in their unique way of living that life in employment. It's ALL sacred and satisfying and spiritual when He is Lord.
So you obviously can see I believe every christian IS a full-time minister. Some are just placed as gifts to the Body as shepherds/pastors/elders/deacons, recognized by the body as gifts, but all Christians are gifts to and gifted for the Body of Christ in some fashion, [for ministry] and for the living of life however we live it. [Which is what ministry is.] "Whatsoever you do, do ALL to the glory of God."
By the way, if I'm out in left field with this, don't tell me. I'm having too much fun out here. ;)
I've always said that my pulpit looks different than a church pulpit but my visitation program looks the same.
Now THAT"S what I'm talking about. ;)
That's a good one! I'd use that catchy little saying at Emmanuel but we took away our institutional pulpit five years ago and did away with the institutional visitation program 10 years ago.
We found out people like you did it much better! :)
You've got a wise Pastor. ;)
There was a young man named John who was a committed follower of Jesus Christ; dedicated and disciplined. Each morning, he would arise and spend time reading his Bible and praying. It was a very meaningful time for John and he would always finish by asking God, "What would You have me to do for You today?" John had a devotional guide that he loved. It seemed to relate directly to him and he read it every night before praying and going to sleep.
One evening during John's devotional time, he realized that God had never gotten back to him even once regarding his daily offer of service. So, he asked God if there was not something he could do for Him. And, God replied that He did not anticipate that He would ever need for John to do anything for Him. Noting John's disappointment, God continued by telling him how much He enjoyed and appreciated their time together each morning and evening. But, that He would really like to hang-out with him during the day also. And, that He was sure there were some things that John could do with Him each day.
John fell asleep that night with a new sense of relationship. The next morning, after his reading and prayer time, John initiated a new daily request, "Come along God and show me what You have for us to do today".
Apollonius is recorded as having said about Aesop:
"He, like those who dine well off the plainest dishes, made use of humble incidents to teach great truths, and after serving up a story he has given the advice to do a thing or not to do it."
Aesops Fables have nothing on your allegorical John. [Well, maybe that's just a bit of an overstatement but who cares. ;) ]
Been out of commission for three or four days,(cataracts) and look what happens. No matter! I'm sure you know what my reply to your heading question would be :)
Left field?I think you've got the bat in your hand and the ball just planting itself on the sweet spot.
I hope your eyes are getting better.
Your idea of me hitting a home run with this post is different than some who've responded in other ways than comments. You would have thought I hit a foul ball to hear some. I think your opinion is the one that matters to me and I'll accept it. Thanks.
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