It is important for every minister to understand with clarity what his calling really is. The ministry can be confusing at times
because we can be faced with more than one opportunity at a time. One day a certain opportunity rises that peaks your interest,
then the next day something else comes into vision and it too seems like a good idea. It may be a new idea about how to feed the
poor or how to evangelize a certain part of the city or getting involved in some new concept of foreign missions. Each of these
seems good and each probably is a good idea; however, you are not called to do it all.
You have one thing that you must do and that
is to listen to the voice of the Spirit.
At any point in time, God is speaking to you. He is telling you what your task in the Kingdom is for today. That is the key to
successful ministry. Know what Jesus wants you to do today. Do not concern yourself with tomorrow for tomorrow is God’s
problem; today is what counts for you. I will tell you from experience the day-to-day walk is a more difficult life. You are forced to
spend time with God on a daily basis to receive your day’s marching orders. I will also tell you from experience that the day-to-day
life is far better and far more productive in the long run. You do not get off track as easily, and of course, that is a good thing. You
will also experience far less stress doing things you should be doing.
One of the mistakes I made early in ministry was to think that every opportunity that was opened to me was from God. That is not
necessarily true. Another mistake I made was to think that every fresh, new idea I had was from God. That also is not necessarily
true. Either of these mistakes will take you in a direction that is not of God
The problem Paul the apostle had (Acts 16:6-10) always reminds me that I too can make mistakes in what I believe to be my
present assignment. Paul looked at all the heathen in Asia that needed Jesus and concluded that since his calling was to the
Gentiles he must surely be called to minister there. Not so, as it turned out. The Word says the Holy Spirit prohibited him from
entering into Asia to minister there. Why? He was prevented from going there because God had not called him to that region at
that time; it was his idea and not God's. Jesus is more than able to bring the truth to those precious people in Asia who need to
hear the gospel in His divine timing. After all, Jesus is the Head of the Church and He alone directs who does what and where
they do it and when. So, once again we get back to the truth that we must hear from Him what it is we are to do today. If Paul had
not listened to God and obeyed His leading him away from Asia, he would have missed His call for him to go to Macedonia where
his ministry was very fruitful. When we follow our own leadings, not only are we far less productive in the Kingdom but we also
position ourselves away from what we are really called by God to do not to mention the fact that we are probably doing someone
else's job at the time.
Allow me to address a matter that I have experienced in my own pastoral ministry and one that I constantly see in churches
everywhere I go. The problem is that pastors are doing more than what Jesus has called them to do. Their church programs
swallow up their time and sap the anointing from them, all in an effort to do good things for the glory of Jesus.
The first year of my pastoral ministry was the time-frame in which I learned this hard lesson of being certain that my church’s
programs are programs God wants in my church. I knew God has a compassionate heart for needy people; therefore, I took it
upon myself to start a food distribution ministry in our church. I dearly loved to help folks who needed help and I loved to see
their expressions of gratitude to God when they received food from us. Our new church was small and so there were few people
who would help run this ministry. Most of the time, it was I who procured the food, stocked it, sacked it, and oftentimes delivered
it all over the metropolitan area. It was a time-consuming task.
One day the Lord asked me about the food ministry. It was clear that He was displeased with me. His displeasure was not over my
love for people or my willingness to handle this type of ministry; His displeasure was in the fact that He had not called me to that
ministry. I admit that I was shocked. I simply believed that since what I was doing was biblical that it was OK for me to be doing it.
That is a wrong assumption. The divine instruction I received that day was to shut down the food ministry and wait for Him to raise
up someone who was anointed and called to the food ministry. You can imagine how blessed and excited I was when in just a few
weeks after that a man and his wife started attending our church and almost immediately asked me if they could start a food
ministry in our church! They took that ministry to heights I could never have because of the anointing of God on them to do so. I
was able to direct my attention and time to doing those things I was called to do, and without the stress that accompanies doing
things in my own strength.
The local church, I believe, is the perfect place from which many types of ministry can take place. The community looks to the
local church as the representation of God in their area, so when the church reaches out in various ways to demonstrate love,
Jesus is glorified. This should be happening in all churches. Our study here is about how, who, and when various ancillary
ministries should be started. The questions of “How” and “When” will usually follow the “Who.” Consider the many ministries
found in local churches: children’s ministry, youth ministry, Sunday school classes, cell groups, mother’s day out, counseling
ministry, job training, marital training, parenting classes, financial planning classes, teacher training classes, men’s ministry,
ladies’ ministry, the nursery, the choir, the ushers, the greeters, the maintenance workers, administration personnel, home
visitation ministry, bus ministry, jail and prison ministries, ministry to widows, vacation Bible school, church camps, recreation
ministries, work and witness trips to foreign countries, etc, etc, etc. The problem as I see it is the pastor becomes like a CEO of a
multi-faceted organization. His time is spent planning, overseeing, managing, budgeting, and administering the vast array of
programs going on in his church. For that pastor it is easy to lose sight of the real calling he has on his life, which is to hear the
voice of God in prayer and to deliver the Word of the Lord to his flock. Busyness often hinders his ability to adequately and
effectively carry out his calling. I know first hand about this problem because I was that pastor!
What programs do you have going on in your church? I challenge you to honestly assess each one to see if God really birthed it
or if that was one of your great ideas. Perhaps a good test is to ask the question, “Does the success of this program depend upon
me?” In most cases, a program that depends upon you for its success, Pastor, is probably one that is of your own doing. On the
other hand, just as the food ministry was for me when God raised up anointed people to lead it, it was not only very successful
and fruitful, its success did not depend upon my personal involvement. That is the way it should be for you. When people who are
called and anointed by Jesus lead a program in your church, it is a wonderful thing that has no burden with it.
This leads me to the stress factor that so pervades the pastoral ministry. Pastors worldwide are burning out at an alarming rate!
Far too many walk away from their calling because of the tremendous stress they experience on a continual basis. Day-in and day-
out, the pressure never ceases, and eventually they quit. My heart was broken the day I met one such pastor selling cars. There
is nothing wrong with selling cars for a living; however, when you have a calling on your life to the ministry you should be in the
pulpit not on the sales lot.
One of the primary reasons for stress in pastors
is the mistake of taking on tasks that are not theirs to do.
Pastor, you are a leader of men. That is one of the fundamental truths about being a shepherd. You are to equip men and women
in your flock to do the work of the ministry. Re-read Ephesians 4:11-16 and refresh your understanding on how your local church
is supposed to be structured. You will see who is supposed to being doing what. This passage is clear. You prepare the saints
under your charge to carry out the work of the Lord.
The successful pastor does these things:
1) He starts with the assumption that his only task is to go before the Lord and hear from Him what he is to teach his spiritual
family. Prayer and Bible study are the ingredients of this work.
2) He teaches his church family the truth that each of them is anointed by God to do the work of the ministry, winning the lost,
serving others, loving people, and carrying one another’s burdens.
3) He teaches them how to hear the voice of the Spirit within them, and this enables them to know what tasks He wants them to
do. This is how they know His calling for their lives.
4) He teaches them the dynamics of faith. Faith is the “How” they will do what they must do. He encourages them to launch out in
faith to fulfill their calling.
5) He releases them to fulfill the calling of God on their lives. This is where the pastor trusts the Spirit of God within His people to
guide them and enable them to do His work.
Can you see how stress-less this method is of leading a local church? At each juncture, you are depending upon Jesus (the
Head of the Church) to work through the Holy Spirit within your people. As you teach the powerful Word of God, wonderful things
happen through your people. You discover that God really can fulfill His plan through a rough, untaught fisherman (Peter) or
through a hard-driving businessman. (Randy) You have greatness sitting in your pews every Sunday just waiting to be
unleashed. Who knows, the next Billy Graham might be that young salesman there on the back row.
Once you encounter this kind of truth, you are then required to do something with it, aren’t you? What are you going to do with
what we have discussed in this study? I believe you are going to do what is right. You will go before the Lord and ask the hard
questions to see if He is totally pleased with your church. You will then make whatever changes you need to make to please Him.
To do so is to wonderfully position yourself for Kingdom success, my friend.
You may find there are changes you must make to get your church back on God’s track. I am not going to tell you this is an easy
thing to do, because it is not easy. When I made my “mid-stream correction” there was embarrassment I had to endure. I was
embarrassed to have to admit to my congregation that I had created church programs God had not told me to start, and that was
not easy. Some did not discern what was taking place. They liked the good things we had been doing (and they were good) and
therefore they could not understand why I would discontinue them. We lost members over this and that was not easy. I felt like
the rose bush had been pruned back so far that it no longer even looked like a rose bush. For a season, things admittedly looked
bleak. But God had good plans for a people who would follow Him and who desired nothing more than to please Him. Our church
started to flourish and went on to be one of the most productive and fruitful churches in our region. The Lord be praised! The
same thing will happen to anyone who follows Jesus.
My encouragement to you, Pastor, is to wait on the Lord. Let Him build His church and I promise you will like what it when He is
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we
should walk in them."
A Word of encouragement for pastors....