Tagged: calling

WHEN FOLLOWING GOD MEANS STAYING PUT

According to Matt. 16:24 Following God seems more like a dangerous walk than a stroll in the park, despite what some may lead you to believe.

Many of us tell God we will go anywhere or do anything for Him.

following God

And no doubt after 14 years of trusting in Jesus there have been many opportunities to go places and do some neat things.

But have you ever felt like Jesus has placed on hold the adventure and wants you to stay where you are?

Look at this verse:

38The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38-39 NIV)

Is it possible that the man was a little disappointed?

The following three truths will be helpful in deciding when and where to go:

1. Submit To Authority.

The man begged to go with Jesus but He told him to go home.

Of course we should submit to Jesus but also to those who are in authority in our life.

2. Be Obedient.

The man did just what Jesus told him to do which leads us to the next point.

3. Examine The Fruit

Are you producing fruit where you are?  If so, it could be a good indication that you should stay there.

So, how does God help you to keep a fresh perspective on “home”, wherever that might be?

PASTORAL RESPONSIBILITIES

In the Pastoral Letters (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus), Paul writes to younger pastors, Timothy and Titus, instruction concerning their primary duties and responsibilities.  Paul addresses both men as a “son in the faith,” indicating the mentorship that would make such letters welcome.  Also, the numerical and spiritual age of Timothy[1] and Titus[2] would make the letters necessary being that Paul was both older and more mature in the faith.

In writing, I will detail five main responsibilities that the pastor should be concerned with in order to fulfill the purpose of such a calling[3], while also adhering to biblical instruction pertaining to the pastoral ministry.  The five key responsibilities that I see in the pastoral letters are: 1) Prayer for Everyone, 2) Proper Teaching and Instruction, 3) A Godly Personal Life, 4) Appointing and Equipping Leaders, and 5) Enduring in the Faith.

Prayer for Everyone

In the first letter to Timothy, The Apostle Paul does not wait long to stress the importance of prayer.  In doing so, Paul makes a sweeping generalization to pray for all people, including those in authority[4].  Paul’s reason for emphasizing prayer is that it is “…good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”[5] For the pastor, it is vital to be reminded that their work is ultimately to reveal Jesus Christ.  Examining this instruction also reveals a direct link between prayer and fruitful work.  God’s goal is in accordance with this prayer which makes it one that can be prayed with confidence because, “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of Him.”[6]

Philip Towner writes, “Two obvious conclusions may be drawn from this instruction.  First, all believers have a necessary part to play in the church’s worldwide mission.  Second, each local gathering of believers is to participate directly and corporately in this work when coming together for worship.  Since Paul mentions this as being a matter of first importance, we ought to give careful thought to the place we give this task within our worship service and other church activities.”[7]

It would be natural for Paul to begin with this instruction because of his own hardships and victories alike both being covered in prayer.  We read in the Bible that Paul was in the midst of varying circumstances yet was sustained by Gods strength[8].  Paul receiving this strength throughout his life can be attributed to prayer: “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power…”[9]  If Paul prayed such prayers for others one can safely assume that he prayed that way for himself.

Proper Teaching and Instruction

In writing to Timothy and Titus, Paul warns them of the dangers of false teaching and that any such teaching must be stopped immediately[10].  In order to fulfill such a command the pastor must be studied and well versed, able to clearly distinguish between truth and error.  “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”[11]  For Timothy, his first task in Ephesus was to command false teachers to stop teaching and studying worthless matters that were only useful for starting arguments[12].  Ephesus and Crete were both cultural “hotspots” which would make it necessary for both pastors  to recognize falsehood and be able to correct it with the Apostles teaching.  In Manners and Customs in the Bible Victor Matthews wrote, “Wherever the Greek, Roman, or Jewish merchant went, he took with him his goods as well as his culture.  Thus, in every commercial center (Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus), ethnic communities were established.”[13]  The people of Crete were known for being dishonest.  The Apostle Paul quotes one of the Cretans own who said that they were “always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”[14]  “In Titus 1:12 he quotes Epimenides a Cretan poet. Crete was without wild beasts; the poet’s sarcasm was that beastly men supplied their place: “the Cretians are always (not merely at times, as all natural men are) liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” “To Cretanize” was proverbial for to lie, as “to Corinthianize” for to be dissolute.”[15]

The young pastors were also instructed to soundly teach concerning the conduct of both male and female on a ministerial and personal level[16].  The Apostle Paul sees fit to give clear direction concerning the care of widows within the church and their family’s responsibility to the widow[17].  Such advice would be greatly appreciated concerning touchy issues like this which could have been difficult to navigate through without counsel for the young pastor.  Paul also addresses other issues such as money[18], authority[19], and correcting others[20].

A Godly Personal Life

A pastor’s life must be a life that is safe to examine at all times.  Who they are in the face of fellow Christians should also be who they are in private.  I have heard it said that “Integrity is doing what you say you will do.”  I have also heard, “Who you are when you’re all alone is who you really are.”  Both statements apply to the personal life of a pastor.  Paul wrote to Timothy, “…set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity… Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”[21]  These instructions make it clear that there can be no compromise in the life of a pastor/leader.   The pastor should do all that he can to maintain balance, be blameless, and to avoid “every kind of evil.”[22]  This is important for three main reasons: 1) So the pastor does not disqualify himself from receiving the reward.[23]  2) So that the pastor does not cause another to stumble.[24] 3) The “world” watches their life closely.[25]

Appointing and Equipping Leaders

Titus first instruction from Paul is to “appoint elders in every town.”[26]  Timothy was also told to “entrust to reliable men”[27] the teachings of Paul that had been passed on to him.  It is necessary to appoint and equip other leaders within the church so that each member can effectively minister and so that the Body of Christ may be edified.[28]  As an individual member in the Body of Christ each person has a unique role to fulfill and gifting’s to be used; without which, the body suffers.[29]  These leaders must be tested and worthy of such placement.[30]  This mode of operation was modeled in Jesus’ relationship with His disciples[31] and in the early church in Jerusalem.  The net result is that the “Word of God spread” and the “number of disciples increased rapidly.”[32]  This type of impact would be an obvious goal of any pastor.  Paul knew how to effectively spread the gospel quickly and the importance of having godly support and encouragement.  Both would be possible by establishing godly leaders within the church and the community.

Enduring in the Faith

Paul closes his first letter to Timothy by encouraging him run to from godlessness and to “…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith.”[33]  Paul begins his second letter to Timothy by encouraging him to “join with me in suffering for the gospel…”[34]  According to scripture, ones “calling” does not exempt them from suffering but may even induce such trials.  Paul is acquainted with difficulty[35] and for that reason can relate to the possibility that Timothy may have been discouraged or tempted to quit.  John Piper, pastor and theologian writes, There are a good many reasons in the Scriptures to believe that the Great Commission will not be completed without suffering. One of these reasons is that when Jesus said that the gospel will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations, he also said in the same context, ‘You will be hated by all the nations’ (Matthew 24:9, 14). In other words, wherever you go among the nations, your efforts to bring good news of everlasting life will be met with joy in some and anger in others.”[36]  Later, in the second letter, Paul gives reason for such suffering, For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”[37]

CONCLUSION

The Apostle Paul’s letters to both Timothy and Titus read much like it would if a father were instructing his son.  The epistles contain wisdom, foresight, sternness, and defined goals, all of which are shared with an obvious affection and love.  Timothy and Titus were left with weighty tasks of further establishing work that had already been started within the cities and Paul obviously trusted their ability to complete this task.  Following Paul’s instruction would be vital for their success in pastoral ministry and would also help to provide sustainability and longevity in their overall life and work.  Adherence to the five responsibilities listed help to provide a solid biblical foundation for fulfilling God’s purpose for calling pastors.

For further study on Pastoral Leadership I encourage you to visit: http://www.dailychristianhelp.com/key-elements-pastoral-leadership/ & http://www.dailychristianhelp.com/pastoral-leadership-development/


[1] Acts 16:1-3(The fact that Paul mentions Timothy’s parents when referring to him may indicate his younger age.  If he was older and more established it would not be necessary to make mention of his parents.), 1 Timothy 4:12

[2] The Zondervan NIV Study Bible points out an interesting observation concerning Titus 1:4: “In all of Paul’s other salutations Jesus is called “Lord”.  Paul uses “Savior” 12 times in all his letters, half of the references being in Titus.”  This is worth taking note of because Titus could have been a convert through Paul’s ministry which would make him a “young” disciple of his.

[3] Ephesians 4:11-12

[4] 1 Timothy 2:1-2

[5] 1 Timothy 2:3-4, NIV Bible

[6] 1 John 5:14-15, NIV Bible

[7] 1-2 Timothy & Titus Commentary, Philip Towner, pg. 63-64

[8] Philippians 4:11-13

[9] Ephesians 3:16-18, NIV Bible

[10] 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 2 Timothy 1:16-17,  Titus 1:10-11

[11] 2 Timothy 2:15, NIV Bible

[12] 1 Timothy 1:3-5

[13] Manners and Customs in the Bible, Victor H. Matthews, pg. 213

[14] Titus 1:12

[16] 1 Timothy 2:8-15, 1 Timothy 3:11, Titus 2:2-6

[17] 1 Timothy 5:3-16

[18] 1 Timothy 6:6-10

[19] 1 Timothy 2:1-3, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Titus 2:9-10, Titus 3:1-2

[20] 1 Timothy 1:18-20, 1 Timothy 5:1-2, 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Titus 3:10

[21] 1 Timothy 4:12 & 16, NIV Bible

[22] 1 Thessalonians 5:22

[23] 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

[24] 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

[25] 1 Peter 2:12

[26] Titus 1:5, NIV Bible

[27] 2 Timothy 2:2, NIV Bible

[28] Ephesians 4:11-13

[29] 1 Corinthians 12

[30] 1 Timothy 3:10, Titus 1:6-9

[31] Matthew 10:5-14

[32] Acts 6:1-7, NIV Bible

[33] 1 Timothy 6:11-12

[34] 2 Timothy 1:8

[35] 2 Corinthians 11:23-30

[37] 2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV Bible

WHEN GOD’S CALLING IS QUESTIONED

God calls each person, 1) To know Him and 2) to make Him known.  God has also gifted all people in specific ways that are supportive of how He would use us to make Him known.  These specifics could be referred to as “calling”.  The matter of “calling” is typically a pressing issue for all believers and non-believers at some point in one’s life.  For more content concerning our ultimate calling read https://doylevan.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/the-specifics-of-gods-will-for-my-life/.

There are times, however, that despite an understanding of your purpose and calling these matters become questionable and even doubtable.  How does one respond in a time like this?  What keeps a person driven, intentional, and unmoved from their God-given calling?  God once pressed a question upon my heart that also revealed a key to moving forward despite doubt or insecurity.  The question:  “If you lack boldness to speak your calling, how will you ever have the courage to walk in it?”

His point I believe is that if we are too fearful to speak what God has called us to, probably more accurately, to hear ourselves say what we believe, how will we ever be able to actually live out the calling?

When something moves from the inside to the outside it becomes exposed.  It is revealed.  This can be startling because when our thoughts, dreams, or beliefs move from being internal to verbal one is opening the door to accountability.  It is much easier to keep your mouth closed.  However, accountability is foundational to long-term success, no matter the mission.

Before you decide to grab a megaphone and tell the whole world the secrets of your heart keep in mind the following principles:

1. Speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

In other words, don’t feed yourself a line of bologna. If you ask me bologna never tastes good, it’s the lowest form of lunchmeats. Living a lie is the lowest form of living.

When it comes to your calling don’t exaggerate.  Answering the call of God will typically not require one to change their personality, interests, or gifting’s.  What I mean is be you at all costs.  While the calling will mean that one’s character and the practical use of their gifting will need improving, continually, it will not demand that you be someone you’re not.

Sometimes we would rather walk in another’s shoes. They seem more exciting and look cooler.  The only problem is the shoe might not fit you.

Live out your calling.

Speak your convictions, what you know to be truth within your heart of hearts. Nothing could be more uncomfortable than trying to live out something contrary to what is within.

Psalm 86:11 (NIV)  Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

2. Don’t trust yourself.

If your heart desires God then your heart desires what He wants.

Romans 8:5  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

If your passion is to live out what God wants (the things of the Spirit) then you can rest assured that the calling(s) that you feel impressed to speak about are placed there by God for you to live out (live according to the Spirit).
This is why God tells us to commit our ways to Him:
Psalm 37:5-6  Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Measure the weight of Gods promise in this scripture.  God said that if we commit our ways to Him He will bring it to pass.  This should take the pressure off of our shoulders.  God has made Himself accountable… to Himself, and really, who better?

Look at the example between God and Abraham.

Hebrews 6:13-15  For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

It is like a guaranteed guarantee.  Human guarantees are based on circumstance and the words in fine print.  God is not like you and I.

He does not say one thing and then do another.

I once entered a car dealership because there was a guy holding a sign that said “BLOWOUT DEALS”. I naturally expected to see at least a few good deals. The salesman came out to greet us and I asked him, “Where are all the deals?” He then answered, “Deals? That is just a sign.”

I was a little ticked.

God is not like this.  He does not offer promises to us and then back out saying, “Well, that was just a promotional stunt.”

If God gives us a calling He will certainly help us to walk in it successfully. He only asks that we commit our ways to Him.
Don’t trust yourself. Trust God.

3. Realize, at times you only need to speak loud enough for yourself to hear.

There is definitely a time and a place to share with the right people what you believe God has placed in your heart to do or say. That time will come and when it does we should be ready to share.

However, there are times if we were to share with everyone our dreams or plans we would more than likely be laughed at, looked down upon, and even called foolish.

It can be hard enough to take your own eyes off of the surrounding circumstances, you certainly do not need any added unbelief and doubt from friends, family, and peers.

In those moments, like David, we only need to know what God has said, and to remind ourselves of it.

1 Samuel 30:3-6  So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

Imagine standing alone, realizing that you have lost everything to the enemy and yet the calling to become king is still inside of you. What once may have been a blazing fire in David’s heart at this point may have only been a burning ember struggling to keep its flame.

If you have tended a fire then you know when a flame reaches this point special care is to be given. Too much at one time will suffocate the flame and cause it to go out.

David could have stood up at this point and began to shout in the face of those following him, “I AM STILL GOING TO BE KING! KEEP FOLLOWING ME!!!

The people may very well have killed him. The flame would be suffocated.

David took special care; He tended the fire and gave it exactly what it needed: He strengthened (encouraged) himself in the Lord his God.

David spoke just loud enough for himself to hear.

Wherever you are concerning your calling may determine who you speak to and how loud you say it, nevertheless the fulfillment of your calling is dependent upon your willingness to speak up whether you need to hear it or someone else.

God bless.