Have you ever been in a meeting where the strong impression is given that any life other than being in full-time ministry is a failed one? Have you not particularly felt that call on your life but been pressured, or even guilted, that if you were where you should be you would go into ministry? I am not sure what level this happens in other areas of Christianity, but it is widespread in the Independent Baptist world.
This is a problem, a problem with many implications. I say that even though I love being in the ministry and think it is an awesome life. I also love seeing young men go into the ministry and fear we may eventually face a crisis where there will not be enough in ministry to meet all the need.
Still, to say that one must be in full-time ministry to please the Lord is wrong on many levels. It degrades those you who are called to other noble lives. It overlooks that we need Christians in every honest field. It misrepresents Scripture as well. Think of some great Bible characters who were preachers.
The most collateral damage with this problem materializes in misspent lives. It could be as minor as a young person being forced into Bible college. That is a minor thing as Bible college could do you some good even if you did something else. Then, though, there are those highly-charged services where the aforementioned pressure is put on and many respond to “the call.” Then some fine young will not want to be the one who doesn’t love the Lord and in an emotional moment he will go forward and say he is called.
This will go wrong in some way as “the call” is real but must come from the Lord and not emotions. That young man may graduate and then either fail completely, not because he is bad or undedicated, but because he is uncalled. Or he may never land in a pastorate and feel like a failure when he is only uncalled. Some of these guys make wonderful Christian layman and thrive in some career that they thought was only to pay the bills. They may do pulpit supply, or be a deacon or song leader and do fine. Why? Because it was where they were called. I hate to see young men who finally stumbled into their real calling still feel like a failure on some level. It simply isn’t true.
The lesson for us is that we should encourage those who faithfully serve the Lord even if they once thought it was to be in ministry. We should also quit putting undue pressure on our young people. Our counsel should be that they find God’s will, no matter what it is, and give it their best. It is far better to pray for God to call more men than to push young men into a call they did not receive. This would spare a lot of pain on many levels.
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