My Call to Ministry
Finding one's purpose in life is that journey of discovery where we locate the places where God's priorities, our gifting, and the world's needs collide. This junction can be referred to as the "vocational sweet spot." The collision point of the divine priorities (discovered in Scripture), personal gifting (discovered in natural abilities and gifting), and the world's needs (discovered by attending to areas of brokenness and sin in local communities) reveals the sweet spot for one's purpose and calling. It is important to recognize that this sweet spot is subject to change. As one develops new talents and gifts, as one continues to grow and mature, and as the world's needs change over time, this point of collision will shift.
According to Richard Lischer, the most intrinsic role of the pastor is enabling the people of God to discern their own callings. Too often sermon examples, or counseling sessions, are drawn from the lives of the clergy, leaving the members of the congregation feeling as if their lives are not also being called. "A congregation is made up of people who have pledged to make their life's journey together." It is not only the divine priority to make the word of God fully known to people, but also to make people mature in Christ. Part of my calling into ministry is my desire to line myself with the divine priority of helping God's people see their stitch in the hand-knitted quilt of God's kingdom. I believe my natural abilities and gifts line up with this vision as well.
When it comes to my heart, I have the ultimate choice to either cultivate a "small heart," or a "ministering heart." What is meant by this is I have the decision to either shield myself from the discords of life (small heart), or become susceptible to an index of sorrows produced by a fallen world (ministering heart). Ministry brings with it the burden of intimacy and those who are unwilling to reflect the shepherd's love for this sheep should not be in this vocation. My heart is heavy for the lost and hurting. I recognize I could financially be making more in other professions, and that I certainly would not have to deal with as much critique and heartache elsewhere, but ministry allows me the avenue to help create solutions for the needs of the world.
The world needs a Jesus who saves, and a vision of how they play a part in that mission. As a minister my job is to teach, counsel, and preach this vision into the hearts and minds of God's people. There is an insurmountable amount of needs for which I am unable to provide a solution, however I can provide guidance to a Savior who can provide a solution. The world does not need more modernized gimmicks or avenues of entertainment; the world needs to experience the love and hope that only Jesus can provide. As a minister, I am on the frontlines of equipping and forming committed disciples of Jesus Christ. There is no greater calling than this.
In conclusion, the faith I have in my calling, and the effectiveness of my ministry, depend on my ability to align the three discussed components. There are two underlying forms of calling in regards to ministry. The first is applicable to all of the people of God; we are all called to love and serve God and love and serve others through our own vocation. The second is applicable to me by being in an ordained ministerial role; I must help the people of God discern their ability to love and serve God and love and serve others through their own vocation. I have a desire to meet people where they are, no matter how messy it might be, guiding them to recognize their part in God's kingdom; not because it is what they want, but because it is what they need.
I have found my vocational sweet spot.