Chosen to Succeed: A Homily for Vocational Ministers

Shared at The Gate Community on 11/18/18

Many times in this sanctuary we have acknowledged pastoral leaders, ministerial entrepreneurs, and trailblazing missionaries, recognizing their call to churches, organizations, and nations. But until last year, seldom have we, as a local body, celebrated the ministry giftings in vocational leaders and those appointed to corporate frontlines.

For many of us in this room, there’s been a convergence of conviction in recent years centered on the idea that fivefold ministry gifts aren’t exclusive to those with fivefold ministry callings. For instance, like vocational ministers, a CPA with God-given financial skills, a physician, and a businessperson known for quality service can function in pastoral, evangelical, and apostolic anointings.

The question is: Are we helping them make connection between original design and occupation…between sacred and secular offices?

While many answers could be said, the truth is we, at The Gate, believe works of the Spirit are manifold and that there are infinite functional ministries saints can be called to. As such, it is also our belief anyone who is saved and aligned with Christ has difference-making, culture shaking potential as part of their appointed skill and spiritual gift mix…

…which brings us to today where it is with great pleasure we celebrate these individuals who have fulfilled their Commission U course requirements as part of Messenger Fellowship’s initiative to equip and empower marketplace ministers.

For those unaware of what Commission U is all about, in short, it’s more than a credentialing course, more than a biweekly small group, more than a quest for frame-able accomplishment; rather, it’s a pathway for disciple-making believers to discover and apply their spiritual gifts in worldly systems…a training ground for men and women of faith to mature their reach in fallen settings.

Scripturally, the word ‘commission’ is used several times. In Genesis, we find Joseph being commissioned by Pharaoh as the vizier of Egypt. In Numbers, we find Eleazar the priest and Joshua being commissioned in front of large assemblies. In Timothy, we find Timothy being commissioned by Paul to commit to his calling. And in the Gospels, the disciples are commissioned by Jesus to make disciples of all nations.

While these cases may seem random, the point is in each of them God appointed his chosen to succeed. And it’s for this reason we are gathered here: to charge these ambassadors not only to go and make disciples of all nations, but occupational arenas as well, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey not only what they’ve chosen to follow, but what they’re continuously choosing to learn and abide in.

So to our graduates, we employ you to build upon the insight you’ve inherited and to see the Scriptures as God-breathed in what you put your hands to.

As 2 Timothy 3:16-172 Timothy 3:16-17 says…

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth [knowing] all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

And to all of us, understand we carry a priestly, Immanuel’ (God with us) identity embodying the incarnate… with ignitable Kingdom influence wherever we walk…wherever we work.

On this note, we consecrate this moment by commissioning our Commission U graduates.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For full service, click here

Photo creds: Lydia Ingegneri

3 Ways to Cultivate a Reproducible Ministry

When it comes to the bivocational life, no question, leaving a legacy (heck, just staying the course) is hard work. I know for me, finding time, energy, even resources…can quickly become challenging tasks when life seems to bottle up in any one area. With that said, I also know when we center our attention and effort on cultivating a reproducible ministry, we ultimately discover the mindset, heart, and tools necessary to be maximally faithful in our respective realms.

So while the topic of “reproducible ministry” may seem like a daunting topic to some, by embracing these three basic points, you’ll find achieving the dream by and through God is completely possible.

1) Spread the “wealth” – No, I’m not talking about financial delegation; rather, I’m talking about sharing leadership opportunities with the rest of the body.

I know, I know…that’s blasphemy, right? *Sarcasm*

Well, as sad as it may seem, there are still quite a few ministers who abide by the archaic notion that preaching and teaching is a one-man, uni-directional gig; however, when we look at what effective Kingdom-centered, missionally-minded ministry looks like, we find the common denominator lies not in sustainability, but in reproducibility. As Pastor Jim Harris, Discipleship Pastor at Grace Chapel, once said about cultivating a thriving, disciple-making culture, “What we do needs to be reproducible. If it’s too complicated, then it’s not mission-minded.”

In other words, a healthy ministry isn’t obtained through showmanship; it’s accomplished through partnership…and the fostering of an environment where God can ‘water’ the saints in their 1 Corinthians 12 anointing. See the difference?

So if you’re hitting a wall in the area, ask yourself, ‘Am I trying to sustain results by an over-concentration of my spiritual giftings or am I looking to help others retain and reproduce truth?

‘Cause truth is: God gave everyone different gifts for a reason. I know for church leaders we tend to assume the church is a customized stage, but once we realize it’s actually a distribution center designed for all people to discover their identity and calling in Christ, our place of influence will sync up to a place of power as well.

My advice: ask the Lord to purify your motives…and to grow your fearlessness in connecting with people. Trust me: I know it can be easy to hide behind the podium; however, if you truly want to reach people, then you must commit to meeting them where they’re at so they can better see the kind of life they’re meant to live. That’s what reproducibility is all about.

2) Simplify the process – While this may seem painfully rudimentary, for a ministry to be reproducible, it’s fair to say it must be…remember-able (or re-memorable), right?

Unfortunately, I find many who think sound teaching is directly proportional to how “deep” and sacerdotal the content is. Yet, when we look at Jesus’ approach in his ministry, we find him using familiar language and relatable illustrations to drive home his points. In other words, Jesus didn’t aim his words over people’s heads; instead, he targeted their hearts for the sake of life change. So when I say “simplify the process”, what I’m really talking about is doing whatever we can to enable our word and effort to take root …whether we’re teaching people how to pick up their cross, follow Jesus, and fish for men…or using specialized planning apps like Evernote/Evernote web clipper/Penultimate/Logos Bible in tandem to better content construction.

My advice: integrate point #1 into point #2 (i.e. speak less, share more, and “partner” everything). You’ll find the more you do so, the more you’ll develop into the koinonia leader1 you were called to be.

3) Stir the rising generation – While I could write many a post talking about following Christ and what real change looks like, it’s all moot if we neglect the fact that mission assumes “3” 2 (i.e. to the third generation) and daily testifies the Gospel. Again, if we’re more concerned about our own flavor and style (as if you could put a patent on it), then we’re not going to come close to inspiring the emerging generation; if anything, the rising youth of our nation are sharp enough to smell inauthenticity a mile away. Yet, if we want to leave a reproducible legacy, then it’s imperative we view and live discipleship as God sees it and how Jesus executed it.

My advice: integrate point #2 into point #3 by allowing God do His part in wooing people to His heart and by being 100% responsible for the role He’s given you (i.e. surrendering, obeying, yielding…prepping in advance…preaching through books/genres of the Bible often, etc.3) You’ll find as long as you consecrate your focus  on empowering young people to speak the truth in love in the way God has you, He’ll make fruitful your effort.

Footnotes

  1. Thanks to Marty Duren for this point’s inspiration
  2. Shout-out once again to Jim Harris
  3. Case and point: our youth group is going studying the parables through the storytelling method)

Cover photo designed through Canva

Staying the Course – The Importance of Not Quitting: Part 2

We’ve all been there.

Life in a lifeless cubical world. Surviving the 9-5 vocational jungle. Juggling a bunch of disjointed dreams against the backdrop of reality.

Perhaps you know what it feels like to be a fish in an aquatic Pandora’s Box

…like you don’t belong no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard the effort.

untitledNo question, it’s in these moments when we’re most tempted to quit…when we’re most likely throw in the towel and walk away.

But as I mentioned in last year’s post, there’s value in not giving up, there’s honor in putting down the white flag in favor of the warpath…and there’s hope in maintaining a posture of perseverance, no matter how hard the challenge.

True, it can be arduous making ends meet and bridging relational divides amidst an unfulfilling environment; it can be difficult loving¹ people in a vacuum where nothing around you seems to give you that much desired sense of accomplishment and worth.

But truth is, at some point or another, we’ve all questioned our place, especially during [what seems like] a fruitless season, where nothing seems to be effective or bear influence.

Yet, I contend we don’t often help our cause at theses points of impasse.

Why? Because of the human tendency to put calling before purpose.

You see, our purpose is simple: to be heaven on earth

…by choosing to love as Jesus loves…

…and to be an extension of hope through proclaiming the good news².

However, our calling is a bit more complex.

While our purpose boils down to modeling God’s love, our calling is how we model God’s love – an evolving expression, designed to influence different people at different seasons in our lives.

Thus, if our purpose is truly predestined (see 2 Timothy 1:8-9), then it should be clear how a) purpose proceeds calling and b) staying aligned to God’s will with a grateful heart is dependent on being completely satisfied in our purpose, regardless if we understand our calling (or how it should manifest in a given season).

In my case, when I applied this truth, it didn’t take long before my dayjob frustrations started making more sense. I had lost sight of my purpose within my assigned role, instead, fearing I was wasting my calling in a passionless, uninspiring position.

Yet, when I recognized my pride, flipped it through repentance, and returned my focus to loving people where they were at, my whole perspective changed.

No longer did I perceive my situation through an entitled lens…or doubt the handy plan of God on my life. No longer did I shrink in timidity or defeatism based on the incurrence of condescending labels.

Contrarily, I began to understand, in greater measure, how a) our callings aren’t meant to always align with what we think they should (i.e. our innate wirings, our creative passions, giftings, etc.) and b) the disconnect between where we are and where we hope to be doesn’t necessarily mean we’re in the wrong place.

In fact, I submit this wedge is something we all must taste at some point if we’re to truly appreciate and rely on the faithfulness of God.

‘Cause whether we feel relationally abandoned or hopelessly lost in an occupational wasteland, it doesn’t negate the fact God is always up to something. For He knows exactly what we need, when we need it…and will always stay faithful to develop the fine qualities He’s established/establishing in us (Romans 1:20)…even if our workplace environment doesn’t [seem to] value these things.

As for me, the only way I could rightfully deal with my workplace dissatisfaction was by embracing a holy satisfaction in my divinely appointed purpose: to do Father’s work His way…and to allow His Kingdom to reflect in and through my life (Matthew 6:33; John 5:19).

And I’m telling you…it wasn’t long after surrendering my aspirations in this way that I began to feel fulfilled within God’s placement again.³

So in closing, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to not see your worth through what you do or value your calling ahead of your purpose. Rather, allow yourselves to be fully content on what God has purposed you to do, all the while, being faithful to pray into your calling…regardless if the heartstrings of passion are being presently plucked.

‘Cause at the end of the day, you’ll find when the two are in alignment, you’ll be primed for refinement.

And that, my friends, is a beautiful place to be.

Footnotes

1) Granted, love should never be circumstantial anyway

2) In addition to being disciple-makers

3) Sometimes, a return to basics with a slight twist of perspective is all we need to adjust the way God wants us to.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Photo from motivationgrid.com & mosstotalfitness.com