a pastor myself, there are so many times guys will come up to me and express
something on the order of the following: “I feel God is calling me into ministry.” By that, I know what they mean.1 They mean they feel like God is calling them
to vocational ministry in the church.
Every time they do, I think of two things:
words of my dad (to me): “Make sure it’s God calling you into doing it, or you’ll
just mess it up”.
you can go out and do anything else, do it.
If you can’t, you might be called to this. (I can’t remember who first said that. It’s not original to me.)
regrouping, I remind them of the root of these two thoughts. James 3:1:
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my
brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
interesting that as James is changing subjects, he makes this one sentence and
then goes on. This office of “teacher”
was roughly equivalent to the office of rabbi to the Jewish community. A teacher had the responsibility of
explaining and expounding the truth of the Gospel. Paul told Timothy, “And the things you have heard me
say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be
qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Teaching the truth of God’s word was, and is,
a big deal. It’s far too easy to aspire
to the office of pastor for the perceived prestige it brings. This can be very attractive; this is why James
had to say what he said!
himself a teacher, notice James states “we
who teach will be judged more strictly”. It makes
sense that we as the church’s teachers will be judged more carefully than
others since others will draw life, or death, from our words. Jesus Himself said in, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and
from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48b). As such, these words should cause us to stop
in our tracks and think through that.
A story I read
recently reminded me too much of this.
It was about a man who was going through a very difficult time in his
life. He found no comfort in Scripture
or in the Lord because his teacher—his pastor—had cast so much doubt with his
liberal approach to God’s Word that the man had nothing to which to turn. This teacher did not bring life to this
man. Using God’s Word—or should I say
slaughtering God’s Word—he only brought death to this man.
The tongues of
teachers in the church will be held accountable for the words coming off of
them. This tip for the church’s teachers
should be taken with great sobriety.
Because of this standard, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers”.
If you are blessed
with a teacher who faithfully gives you the Living Word of God, be
thankful. They are dying breed. Pray for them. If they stray, pray even harder! Confront them, help them. Believe me: this calling is crushing sometimes
and we need your help.
For those of us
who do this on a regular basis: let us remember to Whom we answer and let’s
bear His name well and offer life to those under our teaching.
1 I say it this way because EVERY
Christian is called into the ministry the second they accept Christ as their
Lord. Whether you are doctor or a
doorman, a firefighter or a farmer, a custodian or a cook, you—yes, you dearly
loved of God—are in ministry. We need
the workforce to be saturated with the Gospel of Christ and it won’t be pastors
getting it there. It will be you who
are obeying your calling to ministry in the workplace. Okay, enough of that soapbox.