Up There Down Here

In December of 1980 or so I wrote my father a note asking him about going into the ministry.  I had sensed a “call” to preach when I wass 9 years old, but had found a lot of satisfaction and success as a young man working in the construction field.  I was confused about my vocation.  I have kept his scrall on an worn and faded peice of paper low these many years.  I post it now because my son is asking some of the same questions and maybe others are as well.

Your call to preach cannot be based on wheter or not you are happy working the job you currently have.  God made all of us to be happy when we are productive.  And you haven’t been productive in a long while.  Jesus is telling you that real joy comes when we have “entered into the joy of the Lord” which is being productive like God is productive.  (cf. Matthew 25:14-31)

A sense of fulfillment will come to you when you are productive.  For God made us to cooperate with Him in stewarding this good earth.  Your call to preach God’s Word must come from God, not a feeling of satisfaction from within.  It is a call to give up ones normal pursuits of life and make the wellbeing of the Church of Jesus Christ your vocation.

God may want you to be a bi-vocational pastor or a lay leader in the Church, but the call comes from God not through reason or any sense of fullfillment in your current job.  It is a call to build His Church.

Have a Marry Christmas,

Dad

Lynette and I were visiting the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts a few years ago and I had an interesting encounter with one of the actors that was participating in the interpretive museum.  He was in one of the replica thatched-roofed huts and as we passed by we could hear him reading scripture.  Nette and I walked into “his” house and listened to him read from the book of Ecclesiastes.

After a few minutes I asked him a question or two like what was the weather like and how was the voyage over on the Mayflower.  The actor speaking in a brogue accent stayed in character the entire conversation.  He was portraying one of the actual pilgrims that had made that arduous trip.  I was curious as to what “Isaac’s” trade in the New World was so I asked the following question:  “Issac, what is your profession?”  And with the 1611 version of the King James Bible open on his lap he looked at me with incredulity and said, “Why I am a Christian sir!”

I smiled at the profundity of this actor and asked a second time what his trade was and he said that he was a tailor.

Calling and profession can be confusing.  I know this:  The Kingdom of God on this earth is the most important mission of which I can be a part.  I have been called to leave my “normal pursuit” of the world and dedicate myself professionally to preach and teach the Word of God.

But we all have a higher calling than that.  All who are born from above have been beseeched to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called.  We have all been called to be foot soldiers in the advancement of the Kingdom of Heaven.  So, whether you work as a teacher, and engineer, brick layer or a preacher we are all called to be Kingdom bringers to this sorry, dark world.

A job is an avocation and it exists only to provide a means to advance the vocation.  And that calling my friends is to bring “up there down here.”

That is my profession and it is yours as well.  How is that going for you at your job?

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2 thoughts on “Up There Down Here

  1. I have been called since I was young into a life of ministry. I wasn’t sure what that was going to look like as a teenager. But God did. He took me to La. Tech University where I met someone named Tommy, who at that time was a youth minister. We met at the Baptist Student Union before school even started. Soon we were dating and several years later we were married. We were both called to ministry. In our lives that has been shown as being “on staff” as a youth minister and as a pastor. We’ve also been “volunteer” ministers at churches as single adult ministers and young marrieds Sunday School teachers. We’ve been church planters, VBS leaders, Life Group leaders and I’ve been a worship leader. But where I am presently is the biggest mission field ever. I teach in a public high school. I use my classroom as my ministry field and get to know students from all over the world and from many different religions. I ask God at the beginning of each semester to make my classroom a place of refuge for lost students. They feel something different when they are welcomed into my room. There have been students in my room from Kenya, Somalia, France, VietNam, Ghana, Mexico, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Ukraine, Japan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Mongolia and other lands around the world. I have befriended students who are Mormon (quite a few), Buddhist, Muslim, athiest, wiccan and even a few Christians.

    This is where God has me right now. So this is my mission field. Please pray for my ministry as this school year begins next week that more and more students can feel safe enough to confide in me and open their lonely hearts to Jesus.

  2. I think your father was spot on in telling you to be sure that it was God doing the calling. When I was a young lad in the Air Force, there were several people at the church where I worked as a lay leader for the youth group who thought I should pursue full-time ministry. I was certainly open to it, but in the end, never really got that “call” from the Lord.

    I have still been active and involved in the ministry of the Church, but always as a lay person, which I believe is where He wants me. I am very thankful for those who have been anointed by the Lord for full-time ministry, as it can be a very lonely, thankless (from a human perspective), road to walk. Thanks for sharing your experience and a bit of your father’s wisdom, Joe.

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