Thursday, March 25, 2010

He Calls Us To Be Equipped

“It will all come together because our hearts are in it.” That statement always makes me cringe just a bit. I mean it is absolutely crucial that we bring our servant’s heart to everything we do for God, but we also need to bring a fair amount of ability. None of us would expect to get hired for a job that we were woefully unqualified, or even under-qualified to have. Employers want to hire someone with education and experience. The church should be no different. Make no mistake, however, the church can (and I believe should) serve as a safe place to get an education and/or experience. The trouble is we often give people too much responsibility too soon. When we do this, we set them and those they serve up for failure. That’s not okay.

I’ve met the truck driver who was “called” to be a Junior High Pastor, the just-out-of-college Youth Minister with little or no leadership skills, and the young man with a guitar who was given the overwhelming job of running the church music department. These men were effectively set up for failure. They were put in positions of leadership without a support structure or mentor. They were given far more responsibility than they were equipped to handle, and sadly their inexperience caused brokenness and damage to the cause of Christ.

There are definitely examples of God doing supernatural work using the humblest of people. I think of Bible heroes like David who killed the giant Goliath; Moses who led the Israelites and received and delivered the Ten Commandments despite his lack of faith and leadership skills; the woman at the well who was a prostitute, yet Jesus sent her out to tell her story without ever having taken a public speaking course, and I’m betting she led many people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I believe these are fabulous examples of God’s miraculous power, but these stories are the exception and not the rule.

Samuel was called to do a great work for God, and to prepare him for that work he spent years and years under the tutelage of Eli the priest. In Exodus 35 we read about the building of the tabernacle as overseen by Moses. He wasn’t interested in only men who had the “heart” for the job—he was looking for men that God had gifted with both talent AND education. We read this is verses 30-33: Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the LORD has chosen Beazley son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. Moses wanted the Israelites to see that the Lord had chosen men with both heart AND skill. That should be our qualification model as well.

Many people hold up the disciples as examples of unqualified men chosen by Jesus to do extraordinary work. They were (among other things) fishermen, tax collectors, and a tent maker who moonlighted as a persecutor of Christians! But, Jesus didn’t pluck them out of their professions and say, “Go lead a church.” No! He taught and mentored them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 3 years! That’s a lot of training! When you consider the hours of training those men received from Jesus, we can see that the vast majority of our pastors today don’t even come close to having had that kind of intense education. Speaking of pastors, they would (for the most part) never get up on the platform and preach without hours and hours of prep time going into each and every sermon, and yet they often call on volunteers to pull off a mammoth task with little notice because they “had a vision”. Church bodies don’t want to hire under-qualified men to lead their congregation, yet pastors call on hapless do-gooders “with heart” to be ministry leaders. It’s a strange dichotomy, isn’t it!

So, you think you’ve been “called” by God into a specific ministry? You probably have, but you’ve got to get out of the pew and get educated. That might mean going back to school, becoming a volunteer, or seeking out a mentor who is an expert in the area of work you feel you’ve been called into. As we saw in the passage in Exodus, God chooses people who are both filled with the “Spirit of God” AND have “skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” In other words, people with both the heart AND the ability! When God calls you, get off the pew and bone up on your knowledge and polish your craft. Get off the pew!

No comments:

Post a Comment