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Over-Spiritualizing Your Calling

Let’s be perfectly transparent: the ministry has some amazing, exciting moments, but more often than not — it is rather mundane. It is a day-in/day-out persevering to faithfully accomplish what God lays before us. To over-spiritualize our calling and ministry will end in disillusionment.

Throughout the years, I have known servants of the Lord who have over-spiritualized their calling. They read the exciting stories of the Bible — of Moses splitting the Red Sea, Elijah calling down fire from Heaven, Peter walking on the water, Paul raising someone from the dead — and it leaves them feeling inadequate about the work of God in their own life. In fact, they start to believe that they have an entirely different God than the men mentioned above because their experiences are more like eating dried Saltine crackers than flaming-hot jalapeño poppers! “Where is my ‘wall of Jericho‘ moment?” “Shouldn’t I expect spectacular events to happen in my ministry?” “Why aren’t my efforts producing miraculous results?”

Here is a wonderful truth: On the day of your salvation, the Holy Spirit not only gave you spiritual life, but He also imparted to you a spiritual gift. This gifting does not guarantee some earth-shaking personal experience or ministry success; rather, it’s been given to you for the purpose of serving others, edifying your church family, and evangelizing the lost. That is about as practical a purpose for your spiritual gift that you can find!

You might be surprised at how little is written about spiritual gifts in the New Testament. When seeking to learn about these gifts, we have Romans 12, First Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and two verses in First Peter 4. Clearly, these gifts are seen in action in other parts of the New Testament, but they are only highlighted in their scope and purpose in these few passages. Since these gifts are essential to our service, we might think there would be a wealth of information for us to wade through when seeking to discover our own gift and what to do with it. Have you ever wondered why so little is said about this subject? I believe that God doesn’t want us to overemphasize the gifts at the expense of the One who gives them or the ones who are benefited by them.

When it comes to serving God, scripture reveals that we serve God by serving each other. Yet many Christians have over-spiritualized their calling by downgrading it to the mysterious, the mystical, the supernatural, and the sublime. Don’t get me wrong—true ministry certainly involves spiritual components, but the actual work doesn’t descend from Heaven with the sound of angelic trumpets. No, the process of serving God — and of engaging in true ministry begins with you asking, “How can I help?” When our treasured theology meets our most practical opportunity, we experience our most acceptable ministry.

In Acts 10:38, the ministry of Jesus is characterized by these words: He “went about doing good.” You see, Christian service is not about some divine experience; instead, it is about having a practical faith that sacrifices to meet the needs of others while giving the glory to the One who has called you and gifted you.

So, what about you? It is possible that you’ve been “stuck on pause” as you have made this concept of serving God into something so mysterious that it remains unattainable? Maybe you’ve been waiting to discover “your gift” before becoming engaged in ministry. Maybe you know your gift but haven’t taken the open door to employ it. It’s not that complicated and it’s not that lofty. Look around, listen up and request guidance as you search for NEEDS. Ask someone in your church what needs to be done and see if you can be used of God to meet that need. Fill an opening. Make a call. Write a letter or email of encouragement. Visit someone or serve in a ministry that lacks volunteers. Write a check to someone in need and hand it to them with no strings attached—or even get it to them anonymously. If we will remove our heads from the clouds, perform a horizontal scan of what needs to be accomplished—and then do something to fulfill that need—great things can occur.

“When you cannot do the good that you would, do the good that you can.”

Matthew Henry


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