Faith in Focus



'a workman ... who correctly handles the word of truth...' 2 Tim 2:15

Young man, have you ever considered becoming a minister of the Gospel?

If you are afraid of what the world might think of that, forget it. Ministers don't get much respect in our society. In fact they are often dismissed as wimps or uncaring authoritarians, or worse, just liquidated.

But if you love the Lord and are keen to see His kingdom advanced then the ministry might be for you. Consider what the apostle Paul had to say about the Gospel.

"It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes...

for in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed...' Rom 1:17

The Gospel is the power of God. It is what God uses to bring men salvation. The Gospel is the answer, it is the means to a cure for the worst scourge plaguing mankind, sin. Begin dealing effectively with this root cause of all human problems and you have begun to work on the renewal of men and everything else. The Word is mightier than whatever weapon.

The call to the ministry must of course come from God himself. "How can they preach unless they are sent?" (Rom 10:15) But the Lord usually calls by way of means, through men. So, what you are reading now may well be used to prod you into thinking about serving the Lord in the study and proclamation of His Word.

You may be asking, what does the ministry actually involve. Few people have any real idea. I have a nephew who said to his mother, Mum, I know uncle Bill is a minister but what does he really do? Elders have asked me the same thing. The ministry involves passing on the Word of God, from the pulpit, in the classroom, in the home and on the street. This requires humble and prayerful listening to the Word, for how shall we know what God is saying unless we are prepared to listen ourselves. It also involves listening to people, for how shall we know what part of God's Word we should speak to them unless we know where they are at. What I am saying is, you must be willing to study and you must be willing to get close to people. Our churches require their prospective ministers to do a course of training which includes subjects like the Bible, exegesis, theology, philosophy, Greek and Hebrew. So, you've got to be able to think. And you've got to be able to pass on what you have learned. Some people are great thinkers but hopeless talkers. And yes, there are great talkers who are hopeless thinkers. The ministry requires men who are able to do a bit of both. What else is needed? Love, a love for the Lord and a great love for His people and for the lost. Love means being willing to do something for another. It means a willingness to deny yourself. To be a minister is to be a servant, one who ministers. It is to be a servant of the Most High God, and in His name to be a servant of your lowliest fellow man. It means being willing to deal with people who have all kinds of quirks and hang ups; to be patient with them, kind hearted and generous. The fruit of the Spirit comes in very handy here, in fact you could say it is essential.

So we need men who believe in the Lord and who are willing to be used by the Lord. The Lord has a place and a use for all kinds of people. Men with vision, lots of ideas, lateral thinkers but also fellows who are willing to work and plod on when there are no immediate or spectacular results. The ministry is a job in which you work for long term results, not only in the sense that the changes that you will see are often small and slow in coming. Also in the sense that the full results will never be seen till the Lord returns in glory.

There are all kinds of ways of visualising the ministry. You can see it as sowing and watering the seed, leaving the growth of it to the Lord. You can see it as a shepherd leading and caring for the sheep. You can see it as a teacher instructing and showing people the way. But above all you should see it as a servant of the Lord and a member of His body, in truth and fearless love.

The ministry of the Word is a great and most significant calling.

The Word is still the instrument of God for making people right with Him. It is through the Word that the Holy Spirit instructs and leads us. It is through the Word that He convicts of sin and brings to faith those whom the Lord God has chosen in Christ before the beginning of time. It is through the Word that God's people are fed and comforted, challenged and rebuked. And it is through the sacraments that the love and faithfulness of the Lord is communicated to them.

No, don't look to the ministry for a position of importance and power for yourself. Those that do bring grief on the church and ruin upon themselves. Taken seriously the ministry is not a cushy job. Many find that somewhere along the road they cannot hack it, and leave. Many find the expectations of men too great to cope with. Many expect too much from themselves. They forget that the Word is the power and that ministers are only sowers, instruments of the Almighty. Serious ministers take time to pray.

Young man, if you are a Christian, the Lord calls you to serve Him, not yourself, whatever your job in life, right? In that sense the ministry is nothing special. All christians are to be full time servants of the Lord. But the church, as well as the community at large, needs teachers and pastors. It needs men with a love of the Word and a heart for their fellow human beings. It needs men who believe in the power of the Gospel.

What about it?

Wondering? Why not have a word with your minister or one of your elders.

And elders, why not have a word with that young man who might make a good minister.

(Mr Wiersma is Pastor of the Reformed Church of Hamilton)

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Faith in Focus /NZ Reformed Church / / revised October 1998 / Copyright 1998