Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Christian Ministry - a Vocation or a Profession?

When I entered the Christian ministry 35 years ago, I did so out of a deep personal conviction that this was the call of God upon my life.  That conviction is still with me to this day.  I had been called by God and separated unto the Gospel of Christ, a calling that I treasured and still treasure.

However, things have changed within the churches.  Rather than the ministry being a vocation, it has degenerated into a mere profession, or, as it was marketed as I was entering, a career.  Now in a profession or career, you have to be concerned about what you do in very specific terms.

For example, you have to be concerned that you keep the numbers up and that each year you are making a profit; that you are pleasing the people (your clients) and fulfilling their desires and meeting their wants.  In these ways you will prove to be a good servant of the church and will be rewarded accordingly.  The church always rewards what she regards as her true servants.

But is this to be a minister of Christ?  Hardly. A minister of Christ has only one Master to please - the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Christian ministry is a unique calling and one that must be protected from becoming a profession or career.  Of course, the minister will want to do his work professionally, that is, well, effectively and efficiently; but he will never regard it as his profession, or career.  He will seek to be faithful to Christ and the Gospel and also to be faithful to the souls of those to whom he ministers.  He will not want to needlessly antagonise people, but he will not hold back the Gospel and its personal demands in order to escape it.  He will present Christ to the sinful race as the all-sufficient Saviour of mankind (as Calvin and Amyraut and Daille and Calamy and Wesley and Ryle and Murray McCheyne and DMLJ tirelessly preached).  How hearers respond to such a radical message is not the minister's responsibility.

But the minister of Christ's Gospel must never donn the mantle of being in a profession or career.  But he must always profess that he is in the service of God in Christ, and His service alone.

No comments: