I remember so well how just about everyone who came to Christ in the late sixties and early seventies sensed a call to the ministry. One of the premier purposes of God in the charismatic renewal was the restoration of the revelation of the priesthood of all believers. Consequently, the realized call to ministry was part of the package for new believers.
The only context in those days for being a minister was to be a pastor or an evangelist in an institutional setting. Common sense said that those who liked to travel should be evangelists, and those who didn’t like to travel should be pastors. Needless to say, there were lots of confused and frustrated young (and not so young) people in the years that followed. There were also lots of abused church members—not intentionally, but because of systemic limitations.
Needless to say, such preposterous conclusions have radically frustrated progress toward the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I was three years old in the kingdom when asked to serve as an elder. I was a relatively successful leader in the business world. That church lacked leadership and saw the gift in my life.
I studied the Bible searching for qualifications and qualities that should be present in the lives of elders. Now, forty-five years later, I am so aware that the Babylonian system of government that is found in the majority of church orders and expressions disallows the emerging of true biblical elders to function in true biblical expressions of the church.
History repeated itself beginning in the eighties and early nineties. An awareness of and focus upon the validity of and need for apostles was met by a mad scramble for titles, positions, and down lines. Once again, copying the world systems, we missed the plan and purpose of God.
The above issues were natural outgrowths of trying to pour new wine into old wineskins.[i] God’s intention is a reconfiguring, not a retrofitting of the church. God’s wisdom for reconfiguring is only a breath away.
We can begin with a biblical principle that has been overlooked since the beginning of the charismatic movement:
Everyone should remain after God calls him in the station or the condition of life in which the summons found him.[ii]
Read it again:
Everyone should remain after God calls him in the station or the condition of life in which the summons found him.
You see, God wants us all to be apostolic. But, we are not all apostles. All believers are to be full-time ministers, in the full-time ministry. But we are not to leave our jobs and abandon those with whom we have enjoyed a lifetime of friendship and relationship. Our station or condition of life is God’s beginning strategy for our ministries!
There are to be apostolic prophets, apostolic evangelists, apostolic shepherds, and apostolic teachers. God wants us all to be apostolic priests under the headship of Jesus Christ. We are not all apostles, pastors, or evangelists. We are all priests unto our God.
The person who runs the local convenience store may be a prophet. The school teacher probably has a grace to teach within the body of Christ. Perhaps the florist, the nurse, and the psychologist are all shepherds assigned to the care and feeding of the flock of God where you live.
Wisdom for the Newly Called
Our stations and conditions of life normally afford us the opportunities to express God’s love and service to others. If we walk away from where we were, what will be our sphere of influence?
I remember Gabe Velasquez who owned a bar when he was converted. In true religious form, he tried to sell it for more than three years, and God would not release him. The harvest was in direct proportion to the field he had to work. What better field could anyone ask for? Many people came to Jesus during those years. God prospered Gabe and allowed him to sow significant financial seed into the kingdom.
Common sense tells us that if everyone quits his job, sells his business, and becomes a full-time leader, whom would we lead? Is it not followers who prove that we are leaders?
From where would financial resources come? While we all are to be faithful in the stewarding of resources, there are some who are uniquely given a gift of giving: “He who gives, with liberality.” We could use an awakening of those within the family of God with this particular calling.
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.[iii]
Which of the following seven motivational gifts is more spiritual: Prophecy, service, teacher, exhorter, giver, leader, or mercy?[iv] Which do you find at the core of your being? Just be who you are, wherever you are, by the grace of God.
We are to remain fishermen until Jesus calls us away from our boats to follow Him in some specific field of service. Don’t hang a “closed” sign on the door of your tax office unless Jesus calls you on to something else.
We are all full-time priests, filling our part of the earth, our sphere, with the love and glory of God. We are all full-time in the ministry!