Yesterday I was having a conversation and I used an analogy to describe me that I had not in some time. I spoke of Ezekiel and his call to be a prophet. “Zeke” as I like to call him had been called as a priest into the priesthood. The problem with that is the whole Babylonian captivity thing. Zeke thought he knew what God had planned for him until one day God changed his mind… or should I say that God changed Zeke’s perception of what his ministry was going to be. Check out Ezekiel 1:2; 2:3; 3:2 for more of the story according to the Scriptures. I wonder if the Scriptures were kinder to Zeke than reality was. It seems as though he went to the new path willingly with no complaints. My journey has not been so easy going. There have been many days of second guessing, rethinking, looking back, and wondering if I had done the right thing. Every time I wrestle with this question God seems to work in my life in a way that allows me to see how he has me where he wants me. My plan wasn’t always to go to Bible College and then go into ministry. But I ended up there and then what you do after that is go into ministry. My ministry experience has been tumultuous. And after graduating Bible College and struggling to find my way in ministry, I fell into case management. I have had a few experiences recently that have been encouraging me in the path that I find myself on. I’m not sure why I constantly struggle with whether I am in the right place or not as far as God is concerned. In the last year I really feel like God has lead me to where he needs me, he is constantly deepening my passion or purpose for the children, youth and families that go unnoticed in the world. There is great ministry to be done by working at a church in vocational ministry, but there is a vast, untapped source of ministry outside employment at a church. This is what I call secular ministry. Watch out for the book about it one day. I often feel that being able to do the ministry of the church is easier when not employed by a church. Honestly, there is a precipice that must be overcome before you can begin to realize this type of ministry. It is real easy to be employed by a church and talk about passages like 1 Peter 2:5 about all being a holy priesthood, but it another thing when we are faced with the task of finding ourselves on the other side of the ministry coin, trying to fit into the ministry of the church. It is not always easy, it takes effort to force ourselves out of our comfort zones in order to minister to those around us. I remember when I was a Campus Minister at UGA, I used to tell our student leaders that it was imperative for them to meet the new visitors. I can meet visitors all day long, talk to them, and take interest in them… I’m a Campus Minister, I get paid to care about them. Therefore it means a ton more when one of the student leaders, just another college student like them, genuinely cares. The same is true about people in general. The “clergy” is paid to care about the world, when one of normal joes do it is out of the ordinary. I was reading a Brian McLaren book a few years ago and I think it was him who pointed out that the Jewish Rabbis didn’t get paid to be Rabbis. They had to work and ind money other ways in order to be able to be Rabbis. This changed my life and my view of ministry. A passage of Scripture that God really laid on my heart several years ago is Proverbs 24:11-12. I have kind of made these my personal mission statement verses. They are the ones that have held me accountable over the years as I have chased after God and attempted to understand the journey he has lead me on. Being a Priest is cool, but being a Prophet is better.
Fast forward two years to where I am today and the story is not over… I am now working a church fulfilling the ‘priest’ aspect of God’s calling on my life. Why am I here? Hopefully, to use the skills and knowledge that I gained from the secular ministry in the vocational ministry. I find that even in vocational ministry it is often hard to do the real ministry of the church. We get caught up in doing the work of the church that we don’t do the Work of the Church. Make sense?
Being a priest is great… not everyone is called in that way though…
If we take ministry (prophet or priest variety) seriously, it is hard. Long hours, hard work, little thanks and lots of hurt feeling because people lash out at you. People get mad cause they don’t get it. People want someone to blame when you force them out of their comfort. People don’t like being pushed. People like to be a Christian as far as it doesn’t cause and real discomfort. People like being a Christian as long as they don’t have to change anything.
In some ways, I hate being a Christian and being in ministry… it challenges me to think of others over myself. Selfishness is destroyed. I don’t have the right to be selfish… But then again was God selfish? Philippians 2:4-8 — 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!