Monday, June 3, 2013
What is MY Purpose?
What is my purpose?
June 4, 2013
1 Corinthians 9:16-18 [HCSB]
16For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because an obligation is placed on me. And woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if unwillingly, I am entrusted with a stewardship. 18What then is my reward? To preach the gospel and offer it free of charge and not make full use of my authority in the gospel.
What is MY purpose as a pastor? As one God has called into the Ministry of the Gospel? It would seem that on the surface my calling is rather straight-forward and simple, and for the most part it is exactly that… I have been called by God to preach His message of hope, love, mercy, grace and forgiveness to those who do NOT know Him. I have been called by God to love others as Christ loves me and to share Jesus with all God places in my life. My vision is really pretty clear, but sometimes the vision/calling from God on my life runs counter to the vision/desire of my own heart!
Let me take a moment to explain. As a pastor, my goal is to share Christ and to make disciples. As a pastor, there is NO place in Scripture that delineates a requirement that I am supposed to grow the church I pastor. Quite the contrary, the only statement about ‘growing the church’ is made by Jesus who states that HE will grow the church. However, as is the case for 99.99% of pastors in America, the ‘growth’ of the church is tied to the position of pastor.
So even when I realize that my TRUE calling as a minister of the Gospel is to make disciples, I am also called by my church to enlarge the congregation as well. This is to be done by personal and corporate evangelism, but as is the case with many pastors it can lead to a sense of failure when one attempts to quantify results. Success in the eyes of the world, or even your own congregation, is often FAR different than in the eyes of God. Success in the eyes of God is simple and consistent obedience to His calling.
Success in the eyes of the world screams more people in the seats, more dollars in the offering, a larger staff, multiple ministries and several others indicators for their view of success. This can lead to confusion of the heart on behalf of the pastor, as it can easily denigrate into a contest to see how many seats can be filled each Sunday and how large an offering can be brought in during the service. Neither of which are bad things, but neither of which should be the focus of the pastor! When we are commanded to make disciples, it does not mean they have to become members of our own church, and that is why many congregations shy away from what is defined as “Kingdom evangelism”.
Kingdom evangelism is what Scripture speaks to when it commands us to ‘…go and make disciples…’ and many pastors/churches do not desire to add to the numbers of others pastor/churches, so their focus is only on what they can do to add to their numbers. This leads to competition instead of cooperation within the body and within the fellowship of churches and it actually destroys the witness of the churches.
As I was reading on FaceBook the other day, I saw a picture that, when I read it, it shocked me and actually scared me just a bit. However, in reality this picture relates the truth about the mission of any minister and what their focus should be when serving God. The picture (which you can see here) is captioned, “Go preach the Gospel, die, and be forgotten!” At first glance, the message seemed rather gloomy and depressing.
However, as I looked at it and as I contemplated upon the message it brought, God revealed to me that this is what He has called me to as a minister! As Bonheoffer said in his book The Cost of Discipleship, “…“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die…” As ministers, ours is NOT a calling of fame or notoriety, that is something our culture or this world brings about… our calling is to come and die IN CHRIST and FOR CHRIST!
So with this in mind, my prayer is that my heart always remain focused on:
1st – from where God has delivered me (I am a sinner saved by the magnificent grace of God)
2nd – to where God is leading me (I am on HIS path, not on one of my own)
3rd – on what God desires of me (My plan is His plan)
4th – on those who need Christ (My focus is His focus)
Let us NOT lose sight of our calling in Christ and FOR Christ! Let us be vigilant and ever mindful of the calling God has on our lives!