22 – Do You Qualify For Ministry

What are the qualifications in our day for pastors, deacons, elders and leaders in general? What plumb line, or bar are we measured against that allows us the privilege of open ministry (both corporate and individual)? On a personal level what qualifies us to openly display the gospel to the unbeliever?

You can find the article this podcast is based on here: https://conwaychristianresources.com/2018/11/blog/do-you-qualify-for-ministry/

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Pick up your copy of either of my books Six Minutes of Grace: The Key to Finding Happiness and Purpose” and “Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian Beliefs” today on paperback from Amazon or conwaychristianresources.com/shop or as an eBook from Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iTunes.

From Surviving to Thriving in the Wilderness Pt. 2

From Surviving to Thriving in the Wilderness Pt. 2

We’ve seen so far over the past few months the path which David’s life took as it progressed through the “4 A’s” of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement. Despite our desire for God to take us straight from the place of Anointing to the place of Announcement where we are recognized as being in the fullness of our calling, we must first survive the wilderness.

It’s in the wilderness as we have seen in Part 1 where you are faced with the realities of your heart and you’re given the opportunity to test your character, preparedness and devotion to God before you are given the full measure of your life’s calling. In part one we addressed the “Why” of having to go through the wilderness and now we must look at the “How” of not just surviving the wilderness season but thriving in it as well.

Faithfulness Brings Activation

For David the wilderness was not a time of quiet reflection, it was a time of adventure, risk, action, and leadership. David was on the run from king Saul who was proverbially frothing at the mouth to kill David and secure his kingdom. This meant that David was constantly on the move and living in the less desirable areas of the Judahite wilderness. David had to be constantly on the move but he wasn’t alone. Over time he attracted others from the kingdom who were outsiders and misfits but at the same time they recognized something special about David.

Those people followed him and abandoned their comforts, security and the quietness of their mundane lives to follow this shepherd/general/musician into the desert with the hope that he would succeed Saul, the king God no longer endorsed. But for those people to follow him David first had to go out and live out a small measure of his calling. He led the people, delivered the oppressed from the Philistines (1 Samuel 23) and he forged what would later become the inner circle of the kingdom of Israel. David’s advisors, generals and mighty men came out of this season of the wilderness, and they didn’t suddenly appear after David became king,

Those people only found David because he was already acting with the wisdom, leadership, and devotion of a king, even through the crown wasn’t on his head yet. I feel that this is similar to the process we go through when we try to fulfill our calling or find our own place in ministry. You don’t automatically wake up one day and get handed the keys to a church of 5,000 people when you’ve never done any kind of ministry or received any training. That is a recipe for disaster, and it highlights the reason for the wilderness training and waiting we have to go through.

Yet at the same time just because you don’t have a 5,000 person church or a fancy title, or a paid position doesn’t mean that you don’t go about and do many of the things you would be doing with those opportunities, titles, and positions. It is the process of progressive faithfulness where you are faithful with small and seemingly insignificant matter and you are rewarded with the chance to do something greater next time (Luke 16:10). It is like the parable where those who were faithful with financial responsibilities were rewarded with the ability to oversee entire cities (Luke 19:17).

It is the process of progressive faithfulness where you are faithful with small and seemingly insignificant matter and you are rewarded with the chance to do something greater next time

How can you dream of being a great evangelist like Reinhard Bonnke or Daniel Kolenda if you refuse to go about your own community and preach the gospel? How can you dream of being a great pastor if you don’t have a heart for the people in your present church? How can you desire to be a mighty teacher if you don’t take any opportunities to teach even one or two people? All of the great things we want find their roots of their fulfillment in the little things we do today.

I’ve had to go through this as well, I’ve had times and seasons where I taught small groups but I didn’t see it as a burden or a waste of my time. It was an opportunity to learn how to teach, write and communicate with people so I could develop the skills I felt God was trying to refine in me so I could do greater things. There are times when you will feel like it’s not worth the extra effort, but it always is.

At one church I was a member of I taught mid-week “adult Sunday school” for a couple of years. It was a curriculum that I had put together and the first year I taught it I had nine people attend. I was happy with that and the 20 lessons that came out of that course I still use today and they have shown up in my articles and books. I still benefit from the work I did back then because I was faithful with the process, I treated those notes as something which could become greater later in life and I didn’t see that small class as being beneath my calling.

I was really challenged with this in the second year I ran the course, I had seven people sign up and only one showed up to the first night. That is a real challenge to not only your desire to be faithful but also your pride as well. The one person that showed up wanted to learn and that was all that I needed to know, so for the next four months we met ever Tuesday and I taught that material with the same zeal and quality I would if there was fifty people in that room.

In that moment I could of bailed on the class using the excuse that it wasn’t worth my time, or I could of thought about the times I spoke in front of hundreds of people and feeling like God had demoted me some how. Instead I saw it as a moment of testing where God wanted to see if I wanted to be a success rather than a servant. It’s not easy going through those times, I’ve taught in rooms full of people and I’ve had days where no one showed up, but I feel that it’s in the times when no one shows up that God is examining our hearts the most.

Instead I saw it as a moment of testing where God wanted to see if I wanted to be a success rather than a servant.

Impurities in gold only rise up when it’s in the furnace, and that’s what the seasons of training and wilderness does. It takes the proverbial gold of our life and calling and heats it to the point where all of the dirt, flaws, and imperfections rise to the top so they can be scrapped off. But we resist going through this process because we fear what we could lose in the process, or we fear what might be lurking inside of us so we avoid the process and remain content with being less than what we could be.

People Will Eventually Recognize Your Calling and Support You

Often what you will find is that when you have a legitimate calling on your life and you demonstrate consistent character and faithfulness people will begin to recognize those things in your life and help you take the next step. We see this idea play out between David and Jonathan where the calling of God and the faithfulness of David forced Jonathan to embrace what God was bringing into reality.


1 Samuel 23:17–18 “17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” 18 So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house.” (NKJV)


We can’t be demanding about this, it has to come naturally and through the leading of the Holy Spirit. I strongly believe that God wants to use other people to help establish you so you can maintain a covering and protecting offered by the church community. Even with myself the majority of “opportunities” I’ve received in the church have come by a pastor or leader taking me aside and saying that God spoke to them or impressed upon them to bring me in to help in a project or a ministry. This has happened repeatedly in my life, I haven’t had to advertise my gifts or callings because I was always faithful with whatever was placed before me and I had a lifestyle which matched up with my calling.

It is that faithfulness and devotion to loving God that opens up doors in your life and not begging and petitioning anyone and everyone to give you an opportunity.

It is that faithfulness and devotion to loving God that opens up doors in your life and not begging and petitioning anyone and everyone to give you an opportunity. Really if you want to be in ministry and get opportunities all you have to do is A) show up B) be faithful and C) don’t sin. At one church I was made the “volunteer” youth pastor because I showed up to the launch of the new youth ministry and wasn’t discouraged when barely anyone showed up and all of the other volunteers ran off. I was asked to create curriculum for one church because my pastor at the time got an impression from God to reach out to me about that program. Although with that example I had already served for over two years teaching and helping out with the youth program (ages 10-12), again faithfulness brings promotion and opportunity.

This is all the personification of what it says in Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” We can see this idea also play out in the relationship Barnabas vouching and supporting Paul (Acts 9:26-27) or even to a lesser extent Baruch’s support of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:4, 10).

It is through the people God leads into your life which helps you fulfill His purpose in the world, as long as your life and character lives up to that calling. Because having people supporting isn’t always about them promoting you it can also be about correcting you and protecting you. We see this play out in 1 Samuel 25 with the story of Abigail and Nabal as David was (justly) prepared to retaliate against Nabal for denying him the commission soldiers would receive for protecting a shepherd’s flock. But in that moment Abigail who saw something greater in David than just being a mercenary for local shepherds intervened and saved David from making an impulsive decision and preventing God from intervening in the situation (1 Samuel 25:32-33).

Not All Opportunities Bring God’s Favor

Something else I believe must be addressed whenever we talk about thriving in the wilderness season is that not all opportunities are from God, or even bring more of his favor into our lives. This is a critical revelation that we must face head on if we’re to survive the wilderness. Because there is no guarantee that you make it out of the wilderness morally, spiritually or naturally alive. You could go in the bar of gold and come out being nothing more than dross (or the sludge which floats to the top).

Where many people go wrong is that they see an opportunity to take a shortcut out of the season of apprenticeship or activation and go directly to being announced (or made king in David’s case). It could be through unethical means, or through something completely innocent but either way it is an attempt to bypass God’s plan and hurry the intended results. We all know how this mentality worked out with Abraham and Hagar, but we tend to think that we are immune from such mistakes.

It could be through unethical means, or through something completely innocent but either way it is an attempt to bypass God’s plan and hurry the intended results.

Not once but twice David was offered one of these shortcuts to his destiny, in 1 Samuel chapters 24 and 26 David has an opening to kill Saul and take the crown. David’s followers tried to convince him to strike (1 Samuel 24:4) but each time David refused because of the legacy of God’s anointing on Saul (1 Samuel 24:10, 1 Samuel 26:9). Even when David only cut off and took a chunk of Saul’s robe while he was going to the bathroom in the cave there was apprehension and regret for doing that (1 Samuel 24:5).

Most other people, including David’s top lieutenants wouldn’t have hesitated to kill Saul in that moment, but David’s honorable actions forced even Saul to publicly profess David’s future as the king of Israel. Although this didn’t stop Saul from trying to kill David again later.


1 Samuel 24:17-22 “Then he said to David: “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. 18 And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Therefore swear now to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s house.” 22 So David swore to Saul. And Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.” (NKJV)


I know today we don’t have to worry about killing Saul (or our pastor) to advance our calling or ministry in the wrong way. There are still many things we can do to compromise our walk with God in exchange for a Fast-Pass to our calling. Some people use manipulation, others teach corrupted doctrines, others play politics, but the most common seems to be the desire to abandon their current church and move to greener pastures. Now I’m not saying that you have to remain at one church for the entirely of your Christian life, rather I am talking about stepping outside of God’s plan and taking matters into your own hands.

Yes, there are times when God may call you to move from one congregation to the other but that is according to his will and not your own. Often people get frustrated and imagine that everything would be better somewhere else at a place where their gifts and abilities will be recognizes, praised and put to work. But the reality is that those kinds of advancements come from faithfulness and following God’s guidance in your life. At times he will leave you were you are and at other times He will call you to another place, much like how a soldier gets transferred from one base to another.

Often you will know that it is God calling you to move if your initial reaction is pain or loss, if its relief or joy then it may be your own mind trying to lead you astray. I’m speaking from personal experience here and I’m basing this on the many people I have known who have transferred churches with and without God’s guidance. Those who did do it with God’s leading were blessed and took the next step in their calling, while those who rushed into “greener pastures” faltered and remained in the wilderness.

Thriving Today and Tomorrow

Like David we will all face challenges to bypass God’s plan for our life, or we end up like Eve who questioned God’s goodness and nature in exchange what she had for something else. The wilderness is that place where we can face these challenges with the least amount of collateral damage to ourselves and to the church at large. It’s the place where God can correct us and strengthen us before we have the pressures of the world, ministry, or the full weight of our calling placed upon us. This is done out of love because God wants not just the church to thrive but the people who make it up as well, because when one succeeds the other does also. However, God’s measure of succeeding is often much different than our definitions.

How to go from just surviving in the wilderness to thriving and developing in you calling? It’s done through faithfulness, integrity, character, hard work, devotion and the heart of a servant. You begin to thrive in the season of the wilderness when you accept that you are in that season and you use every opportunity to prepare your heart and spirit for the future. The seeds you sow in this season will become the fruit you eat when you are placed in the fullness of your calling, it isn’t the other way around.

How to go from just surviving in the wilderness to thriving and developing in you calling? It’s done through faithfulness, integrity, character, hard work, devotion and the heart of a servant.

You will thrive in this place when you begin to see mountains as opportunities, and you learn how to walk out your calling by living in part as if you have already “arrived” at the place God has called you to be. You can’t be lazy or dormant in this place because if you are you will never leave the wilderness, and you may even become stumbling blocks for those who come through the wilderness after you.

In this entire process of the “4 A’s” of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement there’s no guarantee that you’ll make it through all four stages. At any point you can get derailed or lost on the journey. Matters such as work, faithfulness, and relationship with God are mandatory or you will find yourself endlessly repeating the same stage over and over again just as the Israelites continued in the same cycle of blessing, idolatry, judgment, and deliverance for hundreds of years.

You can’t just rely on pleasantries between you and God to carry you through this season, this is the time where you develop your relationship with Him. Otherwise if you fail to learn these lessons, you neglect your relationship with God, or you take a shortcut out of this season you’ll just end up launching a ministry where the only god you serve is yourself.

“If only I had ________, my life would be better.” We idealize the perfect life and attribute our own unhappiness to our failure to possess it.” Click HERE for more information.
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From Surviving to Thriving in the Wilderness Pt. 1

blog 35 from surviving to thriving pt1 FB

No one wants to be in the wilderness season of their life or calling in ministry. It’s a place where the crowds don’t see you, it’s a place where your weaknesses are exposed, and it’s in the wilderness that the motivations of your heart are tested and brought to light. The wilderness is the time in your life when your roots are tested to see if God can build upon your life in the way He wants without destroying you or those around you. God didn’t lead you into this place just so you could barley make it out alive, no He brought you there to thrive. Because if your life and relationship with God can thrive in the wilderness then it will be able to survive the chaos and demands of your everyday life and ministry.

Many people don’t make it out of the wilderness. This is a truth we must come to grips with, as it is easy to assume that your life is just on autopilot and you will end up where God wants you to be no matter how you live or react to your situations. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, the wilderness is the place of refinement and while some make it out to the other side there are many who simply die spiritually (or morally) in that place.

Many people don’t make it out of the wilderness.

Or there are others who become overly comfortable in the wilderness, where no one can see them, and they can do as they please. Some misinterpret the wilderness as the fulfilment of their callings where they go and “suffer for Jesus” for the betterment of unnamed “others.” Then there are the few who perceive the wilderness as being a deserved judgment on their life that they must embrace indefinitely.

We can look to stories about the wilderness such as Jesus’s temptations, Elijah’s refuge, Moses’s escape or the migration of the children of Israel from Egypt. In all of these examples we see a pattern emerge: God calls a person or group and manifests in their life, then they end up outside of the comforts of home and into a place where they have to either prove their dependence upon God or prove that their hearts are in line with God’s.

Jesus resisted the temptation of Satan, Elijah learned the secret of hearing God’s voice, Moses became humble and encountered God in the burning bush while tending Jethro’s sheep and the people of Israel were refined into a nation which could enter the Promised Land. Jesus left the wilderness in power and authority, Elijah had his strength and faith restored, and Moses understood his role in God’s plan. These three men left the wilderness forever changed, they were changed in a deep and profound way and it is because of that change that they were able to leave the wilderness intact.

These three examples not only survived but thrived, unlike many nameless faces who have gone into the wilderness and never returned. We see this with the children of Israel as the majority of them died in their season of wilderness, as only those under the age of twenty along with Joshua and Caleb survived. They rejected their wilderness journey, they rejected God’s goodness, they refused to trust God and they resisted God’s attempts to take Egypt out of their hearts. Who knows how many others have fallen victim to these same failings when they went into their own wilderness experiences? This is what I mean by saying that entering the wilderness is a guarantee, but leaving it is not.

But we have another example of someone with a calling from God on their life who had to enter the wilderness, David.

The Wilderness Is Not To Be Feared

As we’ve seen over the past few months the story of David is one which is rich examples of how someone who is called by God is to live and fulfill that calling. We’ve seen so far the path of David’s life which followed the 4 A’s of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement. Normally we want God to take us straight from the place of Anointing and initial calling and carry us directly into the place of Announcement where we are recognized as being in the fullness of our calling, just as when David was formally made king of Judah and later Israel.

Normally we want God to take us straight from the place of Anointing and initial calling and carry us directly into the place of Announcement

However, in reality to get to the places of activation and announcement we (and David) must go through the wilderness. In the previous article I spoke of how David entered the wilderness because of Saul’s obsession with killing him. I spoke of the need for the wilderness in our lives but now I want to take you to the next level where we actually thrive and see the true purpose that we were brought into this place.

In some ways the wilderness is like finally arriving at your dream amusement park (be it Disney, Universal, Six Flags or even Walley World) only to find out that it was closed, indefinitely, without warning. What would you do in that situation? How would you react to reaching what you though was the pinnacle of your perceived calling and life purpose only to find the gates shut, the lights off and a bumbling security guard keeping you from your dream?

I know the wilderness of life isn’t a fun place, I’ve been there, more than once, I know what it’s like to go into that season kicking and screaming and finally when I was exhausted from all of that, I saw the wilderness for what it really was. I saw it as the place where my personal failings were brought to the surface, not publicly but privately so they wouldn’t be (or not as much) an issue later on in life. I’ve had three such seasons in my life, with one of them lasting almost a decade, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without that time of hiding and refinement.

Much of what I write about, be it in the articles or my books found their beginnings in those seasons of darkness and wilderness. I can honestly look back at several of those times in my life and say that they were worth it. They were painful, I was gripped by hopelessness, I stood face to face with my own expectation, and I lost my sense of purpose. I grappled with the ideas of God’s goodness, faithfulness and love in not just my own life but the world in general. In that place I was forced to ask the real questions most people in church don’t dare to ask or think about (at least out loud). The questions that go beyond a normal motivational message, the questions that determine ones life.

Much of what I write about, be it in the articles or my books found their beginnings in those seasons of darkness and wilderness.

Despite all that I experienced, lost, learned, forgot, relearned, suffered, tolerated or enjoyed I always saw that distant shimmering light at the edge of the horizon and did all I could to follow it.

At the tail end of my last wilderness season God spoke to me through a picture. One day in prayer after reading A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller, I finally saw what was going on in my life from God’s perspective. I saw myself walking through a desert with rolling dunes which saw their sand being carried off by the wind. It was not long before dawn when the sky was dark but there was enough light to see where you were going.

Among the stars was one which sat right along the horizon which was brighter that the rest and pulsed its inviting light. I watched myself march endlessly over each dune. At times briskly other times I struggled and dragged myself over them with my arms. At one point I gave up from the exhaustion, it tried to reach that light but my body gave out and slowly the winds and sand began to bury me. All I saw around myself was lifeless desert and sand and emptiness.

At that point my perspective shifted as if I was lifted up by as if by a crane and I could see beyond the horizon behind me. I couldn’t recognize it because I didn’t see a barren desert but lush trees and an oasis the size of a forest. The new life was creeping along the sands behind me but just beyond my ability to see it, and when I stopped it stopped as well. Then I saw myself again buried in the sand and I lifted myself out of the dune and continued the march towards the light.

Even in your season of wilderness you can have an effect on people, you can grow, develop and achieve great things when you work with God.

Even in your season of wilderness you can have an effect on people, you can grow, develop and achieve great things when you work with God. That was the lesson I learned that day, the lesson of not needing to see the fulfillment of each of my steps but to trust the God would honor my faithfulness in following Him no matter how much my mind or body begged me to stop and submit to the wilderness, with its darkness and cool breeze. God is always watching and God is always working, even when we think our lives or experiences don’t’ matter or that we have been forgotten the refining process continues. Then when you emerge from that process your heart is ready to be who God called you to be. This is the truth you can’t have a testimony without a test and you can’t be in ministry without a refined heart.

But enough about me let’s look back at David and how he navigated this season in the wilderness.

Now Is The Time Of Activation

After fleeing from Saul we see that David didn’t just go hide off in a cave and wait for Saul to die. Nor did David just stay out of the way of the world during this time of testing and preparation. What we see here is that the season of the wilderness not only helped to refine David but also gave him the opportunity to see his gifts and traits needed to be a good king begin to blossom.


1 Samuel 22:2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.


Even though David was not the king of Israel he was still a leader and a person God had singled out for great things, and many people took notice of that. In the wilderness David began to lead a group of people of his own, unlike the soldiers who had previously been obligated to follow his orders. From all over the wilderness of southern Judah people began to flock to David to be led by him even despite Saul’s persecution.

David began to see what it would be like to be the king, but before David was king over a nation he had to prove to himself, to others and to God that he could lead this small band of followers. Because the same lessons apply to leadership no matter the size of the congregation, if you fail in certain areas with a small group you will surly fail in the same ways with a larger group.

David began to see what it would be like to be the king, but before David was king over a nation he had to prove to himself, to others and to God that he could lead this small band of followers.

This idea even applies to ministry, often when people feel a calling to be in some form of ministry, they automatically desire to have the biggest platform, the grandest reach and the most influence possible. Many people don’t value the baby steps it actually takes to get to those levels, and they think that they can automatically succeed if they are given the grandest platform first. In reality this is like teaching a teenager to drive by handing them the keys to a racecar instead of something they can handle. It seems that less and less people appreciate the process of incremental promotion and success. Before you can succeed with a congregation you must succeed with at group, and before you can succeed with at group you first have to succeed with an individual.

Even my own life I have been a youth pastor, a Christian wrestling promoter, a home church pastor, a home group leader, a blogger, a teacher, a coffee maker, a chair stacker and a curriculum writer. I didn’t just start with the platform I have, I worked my way through all of these assignments and opportunities and learned along the way so I could handle the greater opportunities which came later. This is the same lesson we see here with David, though he was not the official king he learned how to lead people so that when his kingship manifested he knew what to do and how to do it.

We see this idea play out in places such as 1 Samuel 23:1-13 where David and his 600 men delivered the town of Keliah from the Philistines. David wasn’t a king, he wasn’t apart of Israel’s army, he had no official status but he did what a king would do in that situation, he saved his people from an attack. He didn’t let the city fall because it wasn’t “his turn” to lead Israel or to officially protect the people. In that moment David didn’t tell himself that someone else more qualified would eventually show up, no he acted out the fullness of his calling right then and there and the city was spared.

Did that victory make David king, no, and even that victory wasn’t the end of the story. even after that accomplishment life and troubles continued, soon Saul found out about the battle and send his army to Keliah. It was only through the guidance of God which was revealed through Abiathar and the ephod (Uruim and Thummim possibly) that David fled the city he just saved and went back into the wilderness.

This Is Just The Beginning Of This Story

For David the wilderness was the time of the Activation of his calling, but not the full manifestation of it. It was the time when his gifts and abilities began to mature and strengthen so he was ready for the inevitable day when Saul passed, and the crown would be placed on his head. Next time we will go even deeper into David’s time of activation and see how it carried him out of the wilderness and into the place of Announcement when it was proclaimed it the nation that David was now king.

But before I close I have this question to ask: where are you in this journey? Are you at the beginning where the call on your life has begun to stir? Are you in the place where that fire is being kindled? Are you where David is in this part of the story where God through the wilderness is doing His work of activation and refinement? Understanding where you are in this process will help you succeed in what God has called you to be. You must be honest with yourself and God about what’s happening in your heart and life so that you can survive the place you are in and be effective in not just ministry but you entire life.

For David the wilderness was the time of the Activation of his calling, but not the full manifestation of it.

“If only I had ________, my life would be better.” We idealize the perfect life and attribute our own unhappiness to our failure to possess it.” Click HERE for more information.
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To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Six Minutes of Grace: They Key To Happiness and Purpose. Get your copy today and discover how you can radically change your life through the power of GRACE.

Also available as an eBook here from Kindle, Kobo, Nook and other retailers.

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter so you won’t miss out on anything.

 
Creative Commons LicenseFrom Surviving to Thriving in the Wilderness Pt. 1 Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

19 – A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ Pt. 1

CCR Podcast Ep. 19 A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ

Right now you need a revelation that Jesus is just as alive today as He was during His ministry in Judea. Often, we tend to separate the two stages of Jesus’s life (divine and Son of Man), we see them as two different books on our shelves. One speaks of who Jesus was for those three and a half years, and the second one about what Jesus could be like one day.

We look at Jesus as the lamb of sacrifice, or the humble servant during the time of His ministry and assume that nothing has changed. But what does Jesus actually look like now in terms of his nature, power, authority and existence? Then we have the second question of how do we engage and relate to Him today?

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Pick up your copy of either of my books Six Minutes of Grace: The Key to Finding Happiness and Purpose” and “Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian Beliefs” today on paperback from Amazon or conwaychristianresources.com/shop or as an eBook from Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iTunes.

Do You Qualify For Ministry?

Do You Qualify For Ministry?

Podcast Of This Message

What are the qualifications in our day for pastors, deacons, elders and leaders in general?  Is it the ownership of several freshly pressed suits and ties?  Is it pieces of paper with a signed by someone most people wouldn’t recognize?  Is it the personal collection of books filled to the brim with other people’s personal opinions of Christ and the church?  Is it in masterful trickery of the tongue upon tickled ears? Have we ever really asked ourselves the question, “what qualifies us for ministry?”  What plumb line, or bar are we measured against that allows us the privilege of open ministry (both corporate and individual)? Or on a personal level, what qualifies us to openly display the gospel to the unbeliever?

My desire is to know what the scriptures say on this matter, of qualification.  Ever in my searching I have yet to find the verses commanding the attendance of and accredited university for 4 to 7 years.  Nor do I find the doctrine of, the issuance of golden sealed papers to be rewarded for the regurgitation of cold information.  No, in my ventures across the scripture I have found something, yes something somewhere which hints, no, declares the qualities of true leaders and servants. Now I am not discrediting the usefulness of proper education, I’m speaking as one who earned a Bachelor of Theology with highest honors (the Canadian equivalent to summa cum laude.)

However, that bachelors may be recognized by the people around me and those reading, watching and listening to my words but in God’s eyes it’s not a permit to be part of the ministry. That bachelors did not force God to place a call of ministry on my life and neither did that degree replace or cancel out 16 years of informal self-study and previous ministry experience. To be honest my years of personal experience and previous studies made getting my bachelors much easier and allowed me to complete it in record time.

I’m a huge advocate for learning the scriptures, theology, hermeneutics, doctrine and the like but possessing information, books or degrees does not equal a call to the ministry. There are a great many people who have attended Bible Colleges and Universities who were not called into ministry. On the other hand there are many who are called and are active in the ministry who have never been to school at all. Perhaps I am just jaded about this subject because I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been called and active in ministry without a degree (including teaching people with Bible school degrees) and now I have a degree and am still living out my calling.

I feel that people treat me “better” now than before, but my heart has not changed. I remember one encounter with a church I used to attend in Winnipeg, I was having a deep theological conversation with a man who was an elder in the church and a high-ranking member of the denomination. At one point he asked me where I went to school and how I became so insightful for my age. I told him that I didn’t actually have a degree and he looked at me turned his back and walked away and refused to talk with me any longer. (I should probably mention that at this time I was also the church’s volunteer youth pastor.)

Paying an institution thousands of dollars and writing theses and book reports did not stir up or validate a call on my life. Rather it merely encourages people to trust me more as I live out that calling

Paying an institution thousands of dollars and writing theses and book reports did not stir up or validate a call on my life. Rather it merely encourages people to trust me more as I live out that calling, because honestly would you rather buy a book written by some guy from Canada called Cam, or from Cameron D. Conway B.Th? We must go beyond the sights and sounds of paper and ink and begin to look at the qualities of the heart, the experience of trials, testimonies unwavering faith and a devotion to build the Kingdom as the true signs of a call to ministry in a person. The education which comes later (either formal, through discipleship or self-taught) then acts as a foundation to maintain a person in ministry. It provides the scaffolding for a heart to witness the gospel to the world. We must always remember that a heart will always cry out louder than an idea, our heart motivates us and leads us to God while knowledge and information ensure that we are correctly sharing the truths of the gospel.

How many times have we had information presented to us that was either not believed by the person speaking, flat out incorrect or focuses on the wrong things. I’ve seen fiery evangelists who have known next to nothing about the scriptures or discipleship and I have seen experts on the scriptures who have never lifted a finger to spread the gospel. We need both, we need a heart of fire and mind of raw fuel to sustain those flames and give them purpose.

We need both, we need a heart of fire and mind of raw fuel to sustain those flames and give them purpose

Paul’s Standard

Paul was an apostle in the truest sense; he built churches, raised up disciples, and provided the framework for churches to flourish without his direct supervision. Later in his life Paul approached the twilight of his mortal journey wrote to his spiritual sons Timothy and Titus what the true heart of a leader must look like.  It is a message I fear is often overlooked throughout the church. It is not a message that has to do with externals but matters of the heart. Now I ask you to gaze upon yourself in a mirror as you read the words of Paul and see his qualifications for ministry.


1 Timothy 3:1-7 “1 The saying is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work).  2 Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher,  3 Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means].  4 He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful.  5 For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God?  6 He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap.” (AMPC, emphasis mine)


This is not merely a bullet point thesis of a Christian leader, this should be the calling card of everyone in the church.  This entire list is grounded upon matters of the heart and is directed towards those that have been called by God and can prove their character to not just those inside the church but to those outside as well (1 Timothy 3:7). The fruits of our inner soul is to be one third of our ministry foundation along with knowledge of the scriptures and a living encounter with Jesus. That foundation is not built upon puffed up poster boards of self-righteousness, empty actions, clever words or selfish motives.  The eyes of God see far beyond the masks we wear to our very core being and nature. Thankfully in His grace He sent Holy Spirit to recreate our core in His image and likeness.

We are called to be children of wisdom, holiness and Christ-likeness no matter our age (in the flesh or in the spirit).  We are called to be diligent within our own home before we attempt to gain authority within the translucent walls of the church.  We are forbidden to covet what is not our own and we are commanded to teach with humility and honestly the mysteries of God. We are called to be holy, not for the rewards or to maintain a public show, but because it is the desire of God’s heart.

What Applies To Ministry Applies To All

We can also look to the epistle to Titus and one again see Paul repeat and reaffirmed his view on those who are qualified for ministry.


Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop (overseer, local leader, pastor) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (NKJV)


This is the heart of all those who carry the banner of servant, helper, teacher, pastor, evangelist, prophet and apostle.  It is not merely the collecting of knowledge, though we are not to be ignorant or ill-informed.  But our personal conduct and love will shine brighter than any thesis or quote ever will.  We are to be wise as serpents and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16).  For within us is wisdom, knowledge and understanding revealed by the Holy Spirit. Revelation which goes far beyond anything found in books, CD’s, blogs, podcasts, or videos because it is from the spirit of the living God within. Yet these words of mine fail to compare with the words of Paul.


Titus 2:7-8 “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”


Have we forgotten that we cannot have the gifts of the spirit spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 until we have learned to walk in the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-24? We cannot have one without the other, one cannot be a helper without love, a teacher without faithfulness, a pastor without longsuffering, or an evangelist without peace.  No prophet is without self-control, and one cannot be an apostle without kindness.  Always remember that the fruit is the “horse” which pulls the cart of “gifts”.  I cannot refrain from repeating the notion that these truths are not exclusively for those in ministry but for all within the Body of Christ.

Those who reject this truth will never qualify for ministry in God’s eyes and will forever remain vessels of dishonor at the masters table.  Yet for those who wish to attain honor at the table must live the life spoke of by Paul to Timothy


2 Timothy 2:20-26 “20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, [h]sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (NKJV)


A Pattern Of Commission Combined With Servanthood And Relationship

When we search the scriptures we begin to see a pattern emerge of those whom God chose for ministry roles (leaders, prophets and so on). In most of these cases a call or a commission was first given, then the life of that person would be then marked by servanthood and continual relationship with God. A relationship which included an abundance of time learning God’s nature through the scriptures and revelation.

A call or a commission was first given, then the life of that person would be then marked by servanthood and continual relationship with God. A relationship which included an abundance of time learning God’s nature through the scriptures and revelation.

We see that Jeremiah wasn’t called because he went to the right school, but rather through the sovereignty of God. Moses wasn’t commissioned because he excelled in his Egyptian homeschooling but because God saw a heart which could carry the burden of the nation. Isaiah didn’t have a Doctor of Divinity but saw the throne and God’s glory. Elisha didn’t become Elijah’s servant because he impressed the school of the prophets during their summer internship program. Joshua didn’t emerge from a great military academy, Ezekiel didn’t receive his visions because he scored better than his fellow Levites in standardized testing. John didn’t witness the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ because of faithful tithing, and on and on we go.

What we do see is that when God commissions a person, it is the person’s responsibility to act upon that commission. To get up and go where God has commanded them to go, to live a life according to God’s standards and to make it so the words and voice of God were more familiar than their own voices. The things we associate with a person receiving a call to ministry are in reality the things people are supposed to do after they are called, commissioned or released into ministry. Education is good, oversight is good, certification is good but all of those things cannot transform a person into a pastor, prophet, teacher, evangelist or apostle. All they can do is reinforce the platform which God has appointed them to and to bring comfort to those that the person in ministry will guide, teach, encourage, disciple, train, and equip.

Paul was perhaps one of the most educated writers of the Bible but that information was irrelevant until his encounter with Jesus. Paul went to the best rabbinical school of the day and sat under the most respected teacher in Jerusalem but that didn’t produce a call to ministry or a revelation of who Jesus is. Even after the encounter on the road to Damascus Paul spent another decade back in Tarsus preparing for his launch into ministry. Paul had an experience, a commission and the knowledge to not only be in the ministry but to have success. He had the heart, mind and feet of one called by Jesus to not just witness to the message of the cross but to build the church as well. But even he needed letters form the Jerusalem Church and the accompaniment of Barnabas in those early missionary journeys to give people reasons trust him and to listen to his words.

Ministry is For All

In a frail attempt to craft a conclusion I ask that you examine your own hearts and ask God if you are lacking in any area, or if there is any place in you life that He is excluded.  Then ask if there is any place where He may use you as a vessel of honor to enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom.  For it is not by gilded golden paper that you are called, but by His spirit.  For “many are called yet few are chosen” are the immortal words of our King. The revelation of this mystery is this, that those who are chosen are merely the ones who appear when called. They are the ones who hear the call to preach, teach, encourage, pray, prophecy, disciple, write, create, support and evangelize.

To receive the call to the ministry is only the first step you must then take those steps into that new land where your life reflects that of Christ. Don’t limit this truth to thinking that I’m not called to full time ministry, these words apply to all of us because at our heart every Christian is a minister. We are all called to preach, teach and disciple so our lives, intentions, faith and time should reflect the words Jesus commanded in the great commission.

In closing may we never forget these words:


Titus 3:2-7 “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (NKJV)


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

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Do You Qualify For Ministry? Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.