God dragged me into ministry kicking and screaming.
That’s not something that you hear from most people that work at the church, although it might be more common than you would think.
When it came to the thought of doing ministry full time, I was almost perplexed by the number of people who were interested in such a vocation. It just didn’t make any sense. Why would anyone put up with so much for so little return? Who in their right mind would take a starting position getting paid so little to do so much? Who would want to, for the rest of their working career, put up with seeing the worst sides of people? Who would want to be in the middle of everyone’s personal lives, their divorces, their abuses, their vices?
If I posted on a job board a highly detailed job description of the average ministry position, along with its compensation and average hours worked per week, most people would run the other direction. This isn’t because people hate the church, or don’t love God enough. It simply has to do with basic economics: if you don’t receive a greater return than what you put in, you made a poor investment.
So for a young, success-driven man like myself, I couldn’t wrap my head around ever entering the ministry, not because I didn’t love God or the church, but because it just seemed like a bad investment.
God has a great sense of humor.
And I was very naive.
As my love for teaching evangelism (the what of Christianity) and apologetics (the why of Christianity) grew, it turned into less of a hobby and more of a part-time ministry. I started teaching an apologetics class at c|Life’s Sunnyvale campus. Though the thought of standing up in front of people and speaking was not something I had ever imagined myself doing, there I was, doing what I believed God was calling me to do.
God’s humor shows up here because, while I thought God was just using me to plant seeds into the hearts of his people, he was actually using that small step of obedience to plant seeds into my heart. God was using a small step of obedience, to produce in me, a changed heart about his calling on my life.
Though, at the time, I thought the idea of full-time ministry was crazy, a lot of things God has in His plan are crazy. So should I have been surprised? Should I be surprised by how wrong I was about ministry?
Oh, don’t get me wrong, a lot of my assumptions were true. You do put a lot into ministry for little return. You do take a starting position that pays very little You do see the worst in people, and you are in the middle of everyone’s personal lives, their divorces, their abuses and their vices. Ministry is hard, and there is no easy way around that.
Little did I know, however, that these problems are outweighed by the immense blessings that working in full-time ministry brings.
Because, while all of those things are true, the spiritual blessings that you receive from ministry are incalculable. You may get little in return in the worldly sense, but your spiritual growth is incommensurable (Matthew 6:19–21). You may take a starting position that pays very little, but God can do so much with very little, and the Lord will always provide you with what you need (Matthew 6:25–34). You may see the worst in people, but you will also see the best in people (Matthew 22: 37–39). You may be in the middle of everyone’s divorces, abuses and vices, but you will also witness first-hand evidence of the transforming power of the Gospel (Titus 3:3–7).
The truth is, I love ministry so much, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.
I won’t pretend like this decision was easy for me. It took a lot of prayers, encouragement and God-ordained moments for me to finally fold and enter into full-time ministry, which is why I feel that I can empathize with Joseph.
In the first Chapter of Matthew, Joseph is presented with the information that his betrothed, Mary, was pregnant. Knowing that he had nothing to do with it, I can understand Joseph’s fear: What will people think of me? I can’t marry an adulterer!
Though he did have the integrity to divorce her quietly, he still allowed fear to dictate his decision to divorce her in the first place. It wasn’t until Joseph was face to face with an angel that his fear was then removed.
Because of Joseph’s small act of obedience, God included him to play a key role in the greatest story ever told.
Extraordinary acts of God often start with ordinary acts of obedience. Could you imagine what would have happened if Joseph had allowed fear to dictate his decision? Can you see the impact that this one ordinary act of obedience had? Joseph’s decision created a ripple effect through history. His decision made him part of the Gospel.
God became a human being with the sole purpose of living the life we could not live, and dying the death we should have died. In our place. He did this so that we could have a newly restored relationship with him, for eternity, as adopted sons and daughters.
Neither Joseph nor I had any idea what God had in store for us. All it took was one small act of obedience on our parts. What one small act of obedience are you holding back from God? What do you fear? Is it a decision about your family? Your friends? Your finances? Your career choice? Where you live? What small step of obedience is God asking you to take?
God won’t force you to do something you don’t want to do. Don’t let fear keep you from missing out on the adventure God has in store for you. My encouragement to you is that you will cast your fears at his feet so that you can also take part in the greatest story ever told.