When a person declares that he or she is “called to ministry,” the question that should also be asked is “are you where God wants you to be?” It is important for each of us to be where God has truly called us. While it is fine to declare that you are called for ministry, it is very important to make sure that you hear what God is saying to you as to what your role in ministry really is. Service in ministry is finding your niche within God’s will for you in that ministry. For example, a person who regularly attended church only to now be limited in his or her ability to get to church because of physical ailments may see their role in service evolve to be a prayer warrior for the other members of the church. Even in our limitations, there are still opportunities for ministry if we are keenly listening to His direction.
In Christianity, it is not about what one person wants to do in service, but instead what God would have one to do for Him in service for Him.
“For every high priest taken from men is appointed in services to God for the people, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this, he must make a sin offering for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor on himself; instead, a person is called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, the Messiah did not exalt Himself to become a high priest, but the One who said to Him, ‘You are My Son; today I have become Your Father, also said in another passage, You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek‘” (Hebrews 5:1-6). While we may contemplate how we perform our ministry for God, He makes it clear that those who serve Him are appointed in ministry, and that God directs how the ministry moves forward according to His plan and for His purpose. As an example, the leader of a church ministry, the pastor, is a person that is selected by a group of people through the leading of God’s people. The title of pastor is derived from the Greek translation for “shepherd.” No one should appoint himself or herself to be a pastor as a “call” into ministry. The appointment of a pastor is to follow the course of God’s will through a group of people who are obedient to God and His Word. In the body of Christ, we are to all function within the church as a unit. While some are sincere about their service, others will preach for the purpose of a obtaining a title and maintaining a position or status. “Some, to be sure, preach Christ out of envy and strife, but others out of good will. These do so out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely, seeking to cause me trouble in my imprisonment” (Philippians 1:15-17).
While service for the Lord may always come from the best motivation of its participants or the best of intentions, God will find a way to make it all work for His glory. “What does it matter? Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
There is a clear ministry role that is present for all who are involved in God’s work. It is not what the pastor says you should or should not be involved with in ministry, but instead what the Holy Spirit gives to you in defining your role.
Christians should always remember that what matters before God is not the service in a particular ministry role, but rather the efficacy (how effective) of an individual’s service in that role that God has called for that individual to do. Ministry should not be viewed as a sacrifice in that God will be pleased with your service; instead, He wants us to be obedient to His word in our ministry. “Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
The Bible declares men and women to be equal in God’s sight. “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27). “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Even as men and women are equal in God’s sight, He has shown Himself, according to scripture, to be a God of order. He operates according to His will as to how he has deemed His people to perform in different roles of service. Consider that God, the Father, has a role, just as Jesus Christ has a role, and the Holy Spirit has His role. God made archangels, cherubim, and seraphim, and angels, and each has their individual roles within God’s kingdom. As far as the church is concerned, Jesus Christ, is the head of the church, then comes man, and then a woman within the body of Christ. He is a God of order, and that plays a role as to how He has appointed a select group of men, those who are part of His chosen people, to leadership in ministry (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). This, in no way, shape or form, takes away from the importance of women in the body of Christ or their role in ministry. Every man born on earth, first and foremost, except for Adam, came through a woman (of course). There are many instances within scripture, and within today’s ministry, where prayerful women have provided a tremendous role in areas of support and instruction, but it is important to remember that the order of God’s standard for ministry must be followed and not be excused because of the perception that His Word is no longer applicable or outdated.
In His order and according to His will, God built his ministry team. Throughout the Old Testament, men are prominently mentioned as being prepared for leadership roles in ministry. For example, God noted the birth of Levi, the father of a tribe of Israel, the Levites. “Leah’s sons were Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun” (Genesis 35:23). “She (Leah) conceived again, gave birth to a son, and said, ‘At last, my husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons.’ Therefore he was named Levi” (Genesis 29:34).
Levi, in Exodus 6:16, has three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, who all migrated to Egypt. Levi is noted to be the great-grandfather of Moses, Aaron and their sister, Miriam. God selected Aaron and his sons to serve Him as priests (Exodus 28:1-4). He did not select all of the Levites, or sons of Levi initially. That did not occur until later, according to Numbers 3:5-10. “The Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Bring the tribe of Levi near and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him.‘ (Numbers 3:5). Moses remained God’s prophet through these declarations of Aaron’s role and the other Levites. The point of all of this is to show that just because one was born as a Levite did not mean that they were to declare themselves as priests or as having any special authority outside of what God had intended. Note that God also made apparent in His dealing with His people the order and structure of His assignments. While there were other priests and goddesses in other cultures, God was making it clear that this was the structure of His appointed people. “The Levites belong to Me” (Numbers 3:11b). All of the Levite males accounted for 22,000 males (Numbers 3:39). All throughout Scripture, there were still women involved in this and other tribes of Israel, but it was the men that had the responsibilities of service within those tribes. Other groups within the tribes had specific responsibilities (Numbers 4:1-33). All of these responsibilities were chosen according to God’s order.
The role of men in service for God’s chosen people, was intended by God and is in accordance to His purpose. This also applies today to those who are participants within the body of Christ. While it is difficult for some people to accept this information as noted by scripture, man’s way of interpreting what a person’s role or limitations are within ministry has often differed from God’s standard, or even His intent. Just because one may declare and believe that he or she is doing what they are called to do does not necessarily mean that scripture supports it or that God is in agreement. After all is said and done, God will do what is necessary to ultimately bring Himself glory and honor, but He desires for all of us, both men and women, to be obedient to His Word, and that all participants in ministry follow the structure and order of God’s will, as evidenced in His Word.