Discerning a Calling 6: Keeping your calling fresh

So, you’ve been through all the questions, discussion and soul searching. Your church agree that it’s right to set you apart for ministry. You head off to Bible College, complete a course then get stuck into church planting, pastoral work or cross cultural mission.  And that’s that isn’t it? You are called for life!There’s a real danger that once we enter into supported Christian work that we just get settled into this life without thinking, being challenged or doing further testing along the way.

One reason for this is a little  out of context bible verse.

“For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.”[1]

It’s used to mean that someone can never lose their gifting and should always remain in some form of ministry. However the context is not about individual ministry but God’s purpoise to save his people Israel.

The reality is that in the Bible we have examples of people who end up going back on a calling. Elders in the church can be challenged and rebuked and that must include the possibility of having to step down.  People that were with Paul end up deserting him.

So, if we assume that something is our ministry and is guaranteed then

  1. Maybe we’ve allowed ourselves to get separated from the body of God’s people.  We are acting rogue as individuals on our own.
  2. Maybe our ministry is in danger of becoming an idols. We end up fidning our value, status and hope in it.

Here are some practical suggestions for the Christian worker.

  1. Check in regularly.  Ask the other leaders of your local church whether or not they think you should still be doing what you are doing.  For me, it’s actually part of my agreement with Bearwood Chapel that we will regularly review together what I’m doing to check that there hasn’t been any mission drift or any slackening in my life, witness and doctrine.
  2. Check back every so often with those who originally sent you – they may see subtle changes that others have missed.
  3. Stay fresh in God’s Word. Take time to reflect and renew. Make sure you are feeding on God’s word.  Have breaks, rest. Spend time just worshipping and feeding as a member of God’s family.
  4. Keep revisiting, reviewing and renewing your own mission. Check it against the specific mission of your local church.  Do they align. Are you able to communicate clearly what you are doing? Think about new friends and partners, do they have a clear vision of what it is you are doing and why. I’ve noticed that prayer letters can evolve over time. What started out as a passionate explanation of the mission with updates about people contacted, lives changed etc becomes something that assumes all that, assumes that we all know who the person is, where they are and what their Gospel mission is.  If you write a prayer letter sit down and read it back -or get someone else to read it. If a new person was reading it and considering whether or not they should support you with prayer and/or money would they see a compelling reason to do so.
  5. Persevere. Within the framework of accountability know that there will be ups and downs. There’ll be times when you’ll want to give up and leave the field of paly.  But with the right balance of encouragement and challenge within the body of Christ you’ll also find the support of others is helpful as you keep on keeping on.


[1] Romans 11:29, NLT.