Sunday, January 4

Career? Ministry?

Jesus said, “He that saves his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel's will find it unto life everlasting*.”

Some today go the “career route,” and others are going into “ministry.” Some, like me, tend to get confused over the distinction.

In theory, “ministry” is about finding effective ways to give our lives away. When Jesus said “whosoever will be great among you will be your minister the word we have in the most original to mean helper, assistant, servant, slave. We have “Ministers” today in politics: trade minister, foreign minister, prime minister. I heard someone in Canada warning his friends of a speed trap by saying, “The Ministry is setting up across the street." (Speaking of the "Ministry of Transportation," the traffic police) Maybe such a language problem has come about over the years from people turning “ministry” into a career.

So what is a career? Simply what people do for themselves. To put it in raw, rude and radical terms, a career is what I do to feed my own unworthy face, or a ladder by which I expect to gain a better position for myself in this dying world. In a prison in Alabama the inmates all sit out in front of their cells in the evening with boxes of cedar lath, craft knives, and glue, making model ships, log cabins, and motorcycles. Hobby crafts, they call it. A man might spend twenty years in a chair on the edge of his dorm's “exercise yard” making hobby craft items, some of which he may even sell through some channel to pay for cigarettes and magazines.W hen his time is up, is he now prepared to step out into the free world, now 20 years newer and faster than when he left it? How is this not like the careers, and even hobbies, we pursue? One person becomes the leading expert on the gas make-up of bovine flatulence while another manages to memorise the career statistics for every pro athlete since 1928. Still another may find a cure for malaria or dengue fever. The first has done little, effectively, but collect data of questionable use and a stack of grant monies in the process; The second has acquired a trick to make him popular with gamblers; and the third has spared possibly millions from a painful, debilitating, death. But even the hero who (please, God!) defeats malaria or dengue has only added time to still-short lives, and has gained a respectable reward for that accomplishment. So what is it that actually has eternal value?

Real ministry is so much more, because it is so much less. Less of me, and more of Jesus. Less of my seeking the best compensation for my “talent” as a preacher (or, if I were one, a doctor, teacher, etc.), and more of my laying down my life, my pride, my reputation and “career options” for the sake of the Gospel. Less of what I can accomplish by my own presence in this world, and more of what His presence accomplishes through me. How much of "me" am I willing to trust into His hands, and how much do I think I really do know better?

So what about making one's ministry a career? One is committing oneself to the Eternal, the other is devoting oneself to the Temporal. One demands full reliance on God, the other emphasises self-reliance, even to a fault. Could this be a factor to why the Western Church has become so ineffectual? Could this be what Jesus was talking about, all along? Are we ready to rely on Him, or do we still like to think that we're

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [Lk 12: 22-25, ESV]

*Mark 8:35


  1. I LOVE this statement <“ministry” is about finding effective ways to give our lives away>
    A "minister" is a servant and all the baptized, therefore, are ministers of Christ Jesus (that's why I won't allow my flock to call me their minister).

  2. A blessing to bless you!

    I hadn't thought of it quite that way, but it does seem like a good way to get a point across. Kind of like the nice old fellow who shook my hand where I had been guest-preaching some years ago, said, "The Lord bless you in your ministry." Whether an auto-response or prompted by the fact the pastor had decided not to add a cent to the ministry I was raising support for (I forget now which.). I replied, "And also with yours." Poor guy could not have looked more surprised if I'd 'a slapped him!

  3. Robert,

    A daily portion of my morning prayer time is spent on seeking Gods will for my life. Thanks for your post , it served to help reinforce what I hear (inside) daily.

    I wont give you the entire story but for the better part of 30 years I have known that God has called me to his service. I used to think that meant that I was supposed to be part of the “professional ministry”. Regardless of my willingness to go there I have never found my spot and the “still voice” whispers, that isn’t my place. I’m still watching for the place, if there is A place, that he has molded me for. I know when the time is right, and I am ready, there will be no doubt.

    Until then He reminds me that from Abraham through John the Baptist many did his will and were not from the tribe of Levi. The Bible is full of the stories of men and women who God used in mighty ways who also earned a living doing much the same job as the unbeliever, the difference is they did it righteously.

    Jesus called us all to be his ministers. The ministry? To serve God and to love our fellow man as God does.

  4. Bill, it is really hard not to see my own life, and, I think, several others as well in your story. The main question right now is what kind of preparation are you / have you been doing in the meantime? Whether the Plan is to pastor, teach, or serve pancakes at the local Mission there is a great deal of preparation you can be doing to be better prepared for what doors may open. If you've been reading this blog for any time you have noticed my own impatience with what passes for Christianity today, and if you're still reading it you might even agree with some elements of what I've been trying to say here.

    I suggest looking into the online classes at Wesley Biblical Seminary as a second choice, or taking classes in person as a first option. Wesley has outstanding Biblical and Theological programs with an honest view to a scientifically supported "high view" of Scripture and a theology based square on the creedal history and mystical theology of the Church from Day One, with nobody's denominational agenda to tip the hat to. From my own research at least, it's one of the best three in the English-speaking world and the only one of those three in the US.

  5. Robert,
    Thanks for the thoughts. Graduated with a degree in theology back in 1980.

  6. Right on, Bill!

    I realised as soon as it hit "post" that I had really unloaded the truck on you. Sorry for that! So with the degree and your construction work/business, and all, (a.) what ministries have you been involved with and (b.) how can I pray for you?

  7. stand by, Over the last 20 hours or so God has answered one of our (my wife and I) #1 prayers, to lead us to a fellowship we should become a part of. I marvel at how God goes 0out of his way not only to answer prayer but to do so in a way (sometimes) in a way that make all but impossible to not know the answer came from Him.

    I intend to post the story to my blog sometime today

  8. oops, sorry, I ment to include. NO worries regarding the truck load. It was all taken in the spirit it was sent.

  9. Bill, I can't wait to find out about the "last 20 hours" story.

    We had a couple visiting our church today- He had done seminary, then had doubts about his giftings for preaching, went into fine carpentry for a while, and now he's raising support to go with a ministry in Peru teaching woodworking skills and using that to win and disciple the workmen- all just after having seen part of your own story!


    Read all about it!

  11. Bill, I'm tickled for ya. Calvary Chapel is a good bunch. A few bad bananas too, of course, but overall a good bunch. Got a bit of history with the folks myself- planting a church with them until my "helper" hijacked the work & managed to trash my name for a cover, but that's just one banana. I could sit here type for a long time listing just some of the good ones.

    (Clear the loading dock:)

    While you're in the CC fellowship, let me suggest something. I guess the way the Church has "specialised" over the last 500 years it has gotten like the original Message has gotten fragmented so one bunch is strong, or sometimes off balance, on one issue, and some other is trying to build it all on some other point. In the context of my CC experience my understanding of my place in the Body, past, present & future (and therefore my place in God's overall plan for the Church, for this world, and even in the bigger picture of the Body) was limited to Pastor Chuck's remark, "I can apologise for the history of the Church, but I can't defend it." My scope of why are we here had a gap in it stretching from 1965 back to Pentecost. I was presuming to understand God's word as if nobody before '65 had any say or insight I could draw from. There is a potential problem there of going the same way as some of the 19th C cults, claiming to be God's last days revelation, barring all others.

    None of this to trash CC- It really is a good bunch. But (stay in the Word and) try to supplement you diet with stuff like John Wesley and Old Guys like Ireneaus, Macarius, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, or Basil.

    You might say (What do I know?) that the Bible is plenty, and at the very basic level yes the Lord is able. But much of the time He uses people he already has taught to teach others, and as the prophet said, "those who knew the Lord spoke often one with another," and, "Where two or three are gathered.." So let the Lord use the brothers who were involved in building the Church back when He was laying the foundations in building you up to better understand your own position with Him and place in His plan.

  12. Robert,
    yup, its all about balance. All of the demoninations (oops pardon my poor keyboarding) fell & fall prey to becoming too focused on their favorite “truth”. CC might claim not to be a denomination but as the saying goes if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck.
    This reminds me of a funny story. Back when the Assembly of God was forming a group of independent churches they recorded in the minutes of their first meeting that they were NOT forming a denomination, while they were in the actual process of doing exactly that.

    Honestly we have been exposed to just about every form of lopsided teaching possible as well as some outright heretical and worse.

    You asked what my ministry is? Then you focused on the answer before I had a chance to respond. I---am the cleaner. Or so it has been at times in the past. My role is to slowly, patiently, and in a spirit of submission inject the necessary love,teaching,scriptures,help,money,time to restore balance in such a way that, for example, those who believe a salvation prayer must be prayed on Sunday morning at the alter while the congregation sings praises to the Lord will come away some time down the road pleased to know that they can lead someone lost to Christ in the Acme Parking lot just as well.

    We shall see what wonders He has in store for us this time. This CC has just gone through a transition. Six months ago the pastor resigned and went off to the missions field. They now have a brand new pastor and according to one of the founders of this Chapel it like starting all new. With the exception of the fact that they already have a committed congregation Deacons and Elders. Who knows God may have me there to protect the pastor against becoming deacon possessed.

    We are going to keep an open mind and heart, be as wise a serpents and as harmless as doves. Stay in the word and receive lots of other teaching as well.

    God is on the move and I’m excited. Great and wonderful things happen in the Body of Christ during trying times. It seems to me that all the pieces have come into place for an event or events that will cause the Church, this country and possibly other countries to stop, take step back and reevaluate priorities. I have been praying for revival and I know many others are as well.

    The Stage is set, the show is gonna be great!

    Thanks for your thoughts and for taking the time to convey them


  13. Bill, you're one OK brother! Twice I lay out a full-load scenario, wonder if I had over-extended myself, and you come back with replies to show we really are singing out of the same book. I don't remember hearing that turn, "deacon possessed" before, though I guess for the most part the churches I've been involved in didn't have "deacons" in the same context. Most CC's don't, in fact. I'll have to remember that one!

    By the way- have you ever read anything from Dennis Kinlaw? Let's Start with Jesus and Preaching in the Spirit are seriously good reads.

    Well, on with the day! Blessings on you all!

  14. Blessing oun you as well, No I havent read Dennis Kinlaw? Let's Start with Jesus and Preaching in the Spirit are seriously good reads.

    But I'll look it up asas and add it ot my reading list

    s you on the Hill


  15. Your attended DTS.? when? you dint happen to worp as a bell ho at the Anatole around 1980 ?

  16. Just double dhecked

    Jim Daniels

    Nate Kirby
    Youth Pastor
    Randy Moody
    Ed Schultz
    Worship Leader
    Doug Tait
    Worship Leader
    Larry Ryba


    Anthony Trebino

    Ed Henry

    George Lutes

    John DiGacomo

    John Ivan

    Mike Gunn

    Rich Racano

    Wayne Reaves


    Ed Schults

    Vice President
    Doug Tait

    Randy Moody

    John Ivan

    Jerry Paradise

    Yup they got up. God created the office so I'll assume the right folks serve in these offices.

    You dont have Decons? what type of church do you serve if?

    have you seen this article?

  17. Hold the phone- because the office is mentioned in Scripture that means that whoever is holding that office, at any time following an office by that name is there at the Lord's behest??

    What I said was that the Calvaries I was familiar with did not necessarily have a two-board government system as with many Baptist & Presbyterian groups.

    In my present, Anglican, situation a church may have a deacon who typically serves as curate (assisting pastor). Like the other "catholic" churches the deacon is an order of clergy rather than a lay-elected administrator.

  18. "Hold the phone- because the office is mentioned in Scripture that means that whoever is holding that office, at any time following an office by that name is there at the Lord's behest??"

    Not any more then we should believe that just because someone graduated from seminary and is ordained that they are called of God. For that matter just because they hold the office of Minister, Pastor ( the use of that title disserves chapters on it’s own) Priest, Bishop, or Pope says nothing of weather or not their presence in that office is ordained or even condoned by God.

    Being part of the “professional” ministry has little to noting to do with Gods call. Although, we would wish that those who hold those offices are actually in full time service, have been called of God and have consecrated their lives to him.

    The ugly reality is that many filling a holy office and assuming the title of that office, both from the lay ministry and the professional ministry do not belong there.

    Thieves, false profits and deceivers, we were warned about them.

    Now how's that for a truck load?

  19. Yeah, that's a good load of turnips to be sure! What makes things interesting, or really what makes any sense of the situation, is what Jesus said about tares and wheat, and about "they that sit in Moses' seat." In our own American-ism we often want to either jump on the nearest stump and make enough noise to raise a rebellion or work up a righteous huff and storm off, when nothing of what Jesus had to say says to do either. In light of our 50,000 denominations, how do we deal with that?

  20. "In light of our 50,000 denominations, how do we deal with that?"

    Marta, Martha, You trouble yourself with many things. Mary has chosed the better...... (BCash Translation)

    Jesus told us that many ( and it is many) would come in his name preaching a false gospel. He didn’t tell us it was our job to fix it.

    He did tell us to do as He did.

    Submit yourself to God, Love and worship Him, Commit yourself to you neighbor and love them as Jesus does.

    Keep your lamp trimmed and burning bright so that Christ shows through you.

    Let God be God

    That about sums it up

    The LORD's blessing be on you and your ministry.


  21. And on you & yours, to be sure!

    But in the meantime, do we keep on multiplying splinters, making it that much more difficult for fellow-members of the Body to communicate, love, or even recognise each other? Maybe except for the petty rug and drapery squabbles, every "split" has been over some difference in interpretation of the same truth. Classic example is the "social gospel" controversy of 50+ years ago. Resulting from that we had thousands of sincere Christians who considered feeding the hungry a "liberal" thing to do and self-consciously restricted themselves to preaching and tracting in the face of painful hunger. Others had such a focus on the pain of the hungry folks they came to see the evangelical zeal of the "fundamentalists" as insincere posturing. Looking back, maybe both were right. Fact was, Jesus said to do both, and both sides missed hearing Him. Each split divides the Message, and then again... If we look, I think we would find that principle played out for the last 1050-odd years since "splitting" first became an "option." Not preaching here, just cogitating.

  22. I must price out a job and do up some concept drawing, and just when this is getting very interesting.

    Splinters ONLY form in dead and dried out things. Nothing alive or well has splinters ( added the well part because a bone can shatter and still be alive, but if let untreated it will quickly die, regardless the splinters themselves are dead from the moment they become splinters)

    The church continues to split and splinter because, as it exists now and for much of its existence, it has been a work of human hands. God created it but the organization, form, business, has gone the way of the temple. Though it was alive man, through the sin, has become dead. Man has used it (the organization) to promote mans purposes. From the first church organization of man to today they rely on dead works to display and attract. Big fancy building, forms of worship and service, the list is as endless as there are churches. Please not the use of the lower case.

    The Church is a living breathing creation of God himself. Its us! We believers are the Church. The gathering together of the Saints is and was intended to be a tool to keep us sharp, as iron sharpens iron. To challenge us and to heal us.

    Jesus did not call us away from the world, He sent us into it. He didn’t tell us to start our own social club, he commanded told us to be a light to the world. He didn’t tell us to have two Sunday services and a weekly prayer meeting, he told us to love one another.

    Oh yea, and he did tell us to feed the hungry, heal the sick and preach the Gospel.

    Not preaching???? yea I think I am.


  23. So, Bill, are you saying that no church can face a schism unless the whole church is dead? I'd hate to think that any disagreement can be read as a proof that everybody involved is apostate!

    The hard fact is that the Church has always had organisation. The Apostles needed to assign the Deacons to handle food distribution. The Jerusalem Council met to find how to keep order in the Church as the Gentiles were coming to the Faith. God gave the Church Apostles, Prophets, etc. to develop the saints and bind the Body together. Can we fellowship only with Christians, but not with or through the organisation to which they belong? How would that not be like my saying I enjoy talking with Bill, but I leave all those Cashes alone?

    No, even the greenest wood can split, or be split, and we're all placed in the Body and I think it would take some serious theological speculation to say the "invisible" structure is the only one that matters, and then go and identify that invisible structure. Not saying it's wrong to try, but not sure we have the grounds for such a strict division between the two (or more).

  24. Sorry Robert,

    This is one of those times when brevity, language skills (or the lack thereof) and rushing has led me to express something less then I intended. Of course all Churches are not Apostate, just as not all splits are not for wrong reasons.

    I recall sitting one night in the car debating a point with a friend who was attending D.T.S. We talked/ debated most of the night. When it was done we both left firmly holding to the position we started with, although we both made lots of good points. However, we started, continued, and finished being of one mind on eternal truths.

    Something tells me you and I could invest much more then a single night kicking this horse around. In the end you’ll feel compelled to try to fix it. Who am I to suggest that God has not placed that burden in your heart. Truly there are many passages of scriptures that will back you up and I can’t think of a single one that contradicts. Honestly, I can’t think of a single reason I would want to find one.

    Have you read the Great Divorce? In it CS Lewis tells of a conversation between a heavenly spirit and a lost soul who was an artist in this world. The heavenly spirit point out that in the beginning of the artists love with art it was light he loved and that his art was an attempt to help others see light as he did. Eventually the artist lost touch with his love for of light. As his use of and skills of the medium grew it overshadowed the light. Eventually the artist forgot the light. I have been down that road, both in the natural and in the spiritual realms. I go way out of my way anymore to avoid that mistake now.

    Time to run.


  25. OK, Bill, just for the fun of it, what splits have been for the right reasons?

  26. the first one started with a document nailed to a door. Well thats what the story tells.

    Time for us to move on.

    Be well,


  27. Yeah, it's all fun and games until- no wait, that was about BB guns, wasn't it?

    Bill, I never did get the story about that strange entry concerning DTS. Was it a good story I missed, or one you thought better of?

    And remember: "Make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can!"



So what's your take?