What Do I Do If My Pastor Will Not Recognize My Calling?
Q: I read your paper titled "A Ministerís Authority.." I have a question for you. What do I if I feel called to a particular ministry, but my pastor does not recognize my calling. How should I handle the situation?
A: I do not know your pastor, nor do I know you. I also do not wish to speak against a man
whom God has raised to a position of authority. In such a capacity and situation, I am going to use both caution and modesty in my approach to this question. As I said in the paper, a minister does indeed have a level of authority from God. This authority is to be exercised over believers for the purpose of edification, not for vain-glory. Often times God will speak to people in positions of authority, even if they should not be there, or are not right with God. God used Caiaphas the high priest to prophecy of the death of Jesus for the Jewish nation, even though Caiaphas was not aware of it, and even though he was the great stimulus for Jesusí crucifixion (John 18:13-15). It was his office, not his person that mattered. Although God is concerned about the spiritual condition of the man who is ministering, He is more concerned with the people the man is ministering to. That is why we can never judge the word spoken by a man who is not right with God, to not be from God. The Bible is full of examples of people being used by God who were not right with Him.
I also believe that our elders have much wisdom to offer. I was recently reading the account of Rehoboam and his counselors (I Kings 12). When the Israelites asked to not be taxed as much as Solomon had taxed them, Rehoboam counseled with the elders on what to do. They said to lessen the taxes.. Then Rehoboam asked his younger friends. They said to increase the taxes. Rehoboam took the younger menís advice and lost 10 tribes of his kingdom as a result. There is safety in a multitude of counselors, especially experienced counselors.
I believe that most of the time God will speak to us about our ministry. I do not believe that oneís calling necessarily comes as an audible voice from heaven, but we know our ministry by looking at what motivates us to work for Godís kingdom. Paul said that God gives us both the right desires and the abilities to perform those desires (Philippians 2:13). If you have a desire for a certain area of ministry, this is a good, but not definitive, indication that this is the area of ministry God is calling you to. What are you burdened about? Is it bringing new people to God? Is it grounding new converts in the Word that someone else brought to God? Is it working with the homeless or in the prisons? If you feel a great burden to do a particular thing in the kingdom of God, or to operate in a certain capacity, this probably is what you are called to do. Others may not recognize this, however. Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah. He knew this at least by the age of 12, but He did not begin His ministry until after He was over 30 years old. I believe one of the reasons He waited was because He knew that at His young age, people would not recognize His ministry. God was waiting for the right time to begin Jesusí ministry. You may know your calling, but it may not be the time for it to be unleashed yet.
Paul said, "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (I Tim 4:14). Contextually Paul is speaking about Timothyís ministerial responsibilities. Then he tells him not to neglect the gift that is in him. This "gift" is not the Holy Ghost, nor is it one of the gifts of the Spirit, for neither of these are given by prophecy, nor can they be given by the hands of men. This gift is Timothyís ministerial gift. What is important is that this gift, or calling if you will, was given to Timothy by prophecy and by the laying on of the hands of the ministry. This does not mean that one must have their ministry be prophesied to them, or that they cannot know their calling for themselves. What this does teach us is that oneís ministry will be apparent to, and confirmed by the ministry. They will sense what your calling is (by the Holy Ghost), and confirm it (by ordinationólaying on of hands).
If you feel you are called to a particular ministry, but your leaders do not recognize it, it can mean one of three things. Either you are not truly called; the leaders are not listening to the Spirit; or the Spirit has not yet spoken to them for whatever reason there may be. If it is the second, do not fear. If God has truly called you, He will not allow any man to squash your ministry. Either He will change the man, remove the man, or remove you. God is sovereign. He will never call someone and then let opposition stop them from fulfilling that call. He can change the heart of those who are opposing His will. The Bible says that the hearts of kings are in Godís hands. He has the ability to change menís minds. The Bible is full of examples of this.
I would advise you to patiently wait for God to do what He will do. A calling does not always come with a time-table, indicating when the calling will be fulfilled. The apostles were called, but did not begin to fulfill their calling until some 3 ½ years later. God can make us aware of our calling, but He usually takes a great amount of time in preparing us for that calling before we actively engage in it. This may be your situation. Do not give up on what you feel God calling you to do, and do not write off your pastor as a carnal man, but trust in God to open the doors at the right time. He is in control of the situation. It is His kingdom, not ours. We are usually the safest in submitting to the authority, and letting God take care of that authority if they are indeed wrong. If they are right, however, they may spare us a lot of heartache and pain.
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