It has been suggested among the so-called prophetic movement (which actually is rightfully the Church!) i that there is a three-fold process of preparation for ministry that God takes any person through before they are fully released and recognised within the Church. Such a process includes a distinct call, years of preparation and then finally a commission.
The idea is a logical one – but very simplistic and not really what the Bible teaches. What the Bible teaches us much more robust, encouraging, challenging and inspiring.
The starting point is not the call of God to ministry. Samuel was serving in the Temple before the Lord spoke with an audible voice to him, and this is the very foundation to everything that happens in our lives before we even consider ministry. Serving one another, including serving the church is paramount. Jesus’ own prime example speaks volumes here, coming from heaven not to be served but to serve.
The Bible knows nothing about leaders who do not or cannot serve.
It is interesting to see in some churches the emphasis from the platforms by leaders that they are but servants, but you will never see them on the coffee, stewards or hospitality teams. Serving is sometimes seen as a one-off entry-level to ministry event. Notice the terrible indictment on such a practice when you gaze on Jesus, at the conclusion of His ministry just hours before He faces the cross, taking up a towel to wash the disciples’ feet.
Paul goes to great lengths to explain qualification to eldership and being a deacon (servant), and interestingly, the first thing we are told we hear as we enter in heaven is, “Well done, good and faithful deacon!” (Matthew 25:21)
After spending three years with Jesus in close discipleship, their commitment to their preparation for ministry is seen in Acts 6:4 “we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” They are ready. They have seen miracles, heard sermons that will be repeated for centuries, seen the cross, witnessed firsthand the care and compassion of Jesus towards mankind and the lost and been with Jesus at the time of deep pain, heartbreak and terrible sorrow.
Maybe those are the factors that at least indicate the start of a disciplined journey to ministering to others. Not just going through some of those things – but beholding, savouring, admiring and treasuring the Christ who excelled in showing the absolute gold standard of how to live a life that reflects the true glory, holiness and preeminence of God. It all starts with our encounter with Christ.
“A discipleship walk with Jesus is a supernatural journey” ~ Paul Cain
The change and transformation that affects our heart as the gospel begins to do its glorious work deep in the caverns and hidden recesses and dungeons of our heart is cataclysmic. What makes us stand out as fit for service for the Lord is the willingness to follow, love, serve and obey the Lord as His grace is poured into our dry parched hearts.
And even then, the thundering call to holiness and purity of heart is but the evidence of authentic Christianity – the call to ministry is not because of what we say or do, but because in the mystery of the unfathomable, God so chooses.
And such a one, called by the grace of God to serve Him, the Gospel, the Church and people is recognised easily because the call of God on their life is clearly evident. Stephen was a man full of faith and the Spirit – and everyone knew it. There are qualities about leaders that have been with God that cannot be hidden. When you are around them they inspire faith and trust in God. They carry the presence of God, and their commitment to the Bible in times of trouble is unquestionable.
Are you preparing for ministry? Give yourself wholeheartedly and unequivocally to the apostles teaching, the Word of God, prayer and fellowship – and of course the breaking of bread. You will be in very good company.