Training for Ministry
No one is born gifted and ready to serve God. It does not come naturally to any human. No matter how talented we are as unbelievers, our old life is dead and gone when we get saved. We each start our journey with God freed from the old things. This includes the talents, skills, and abilities that defined us before Christ. They often don’t matter anymore. They may be bad for our new life. We are a babe in Christ. It is wonderful to be a new creation. But because we are brand new, we often have no idea what to do next…and that is ok.
God does not call us because we are ready to serve Him. He does so because we are lost and hopeless. We were dead in our sins and trespasses. No talent, expertise or ability could save us. All our deeds were filthy rags. It is in this helpless but hopeful position we begin our life with Jesus.
We all start off as “baby Christians”. God loves us like proud parents of a newborn child. No parent expects their newborn to be able to do calculus.
Saved for Good Works
Where will God use us? We often do multipage tests in order to figure out our Spiritual Gifts. People spend hours in seminars and participating in assessments. We do so out of good motives but the framework for these practices misses the real point of service and Spiritual Gifts. God calls people who are unqualified to do His will. It brings Him more glory when the untalented, the meek, and the unlikely do the impossible for them through His power. God Doesn’t Call the Qualified, He Qualifies the Called
The Bible is filled with unqualified people who walk after Jesus and change the world. They simply answer God’s specific call to them and trust Him. The Holy Spirit then provides the needful things to get God’s work done.
God also has big plans for us. He places good works before each of us to do as we walk with Him. They were prepared before we were saved. Completing them is part of God’s plan. We each have a unique roll in the Body of Christ. We each have talents God will use in His service. The Holy Spirit also gives us gifts of skills, abilities and desires to be used to bring God glory.
Works don’t save us but they do show evidence of our salvation. It is vitally important to figure out where and how God wants us to serve Him. Faith without works is dead.
These rolls can be simple like sharing the Gospel. They can be incredibly complex like running an international ministry. Most believers are not ready to conquer even the small acts of obedience at the moment of salvation. Babies can do very little on their own. They must be taught how to serve as they grow in their relationship with Jesus. They must grow through the gifts of the Spirit as they learn.
It is not just a flip of a switch. Most of us don’t go from completely lost to a selfless servant in a day. We don’t go from accountant to Billy Graham on our own merit. It involves trial and error. We need many hours of watching others serve. We need to be taught how to serve before we understand what we are doing and why.
Most of all, we need a call from Jesus. He will then give us the power and ability in order to set out to do the impossible.
We are saved in a moment but it takes time getting to know Jesus, His Spirit and His people before we can understand how to walk like He did.
No Spiritual Gift assessment can tell us God’s call on us. No seminar can provide the power from the Spirit that fuels God’s people. It comes from a willing heart, faith in the Lord and starting to serve to see where God leads.
Are we looking for our Spiritual Gift? Do we want to train for ministry?
Great, pray to God, pick a simple job in the Body of Christ and start serving alongside others and you will start learning.
Do we feel unqualified to do anything of substance in the Body of Christ? No problem. Jesus is able enough for everyone. He just needs us willing to do His will.
A Servant in Training
We see an excellent example of this process in the life of the great prophet, Samuel. He begins his life of service as a literal babe. He matures into an amazing man of God while working for God. He then does amazing works for the Lord through the Holy Spirit working in Him. Samuel was never able to do God’s work on his own. It is just really obvious when he first arrives.
Samuel is given over to the service of God at a very young age. He is likely about 3-4 years of age when his mother takes him to the Temple. Though Samuel would grow to be a great prophet at this point he is a just regular child. He is not much more than a baby.
Samuel is not ready to act as a priest or prophet. He is a little boy with very little idea of what God has in store for him. He certainly doesn’t know how to do anything. He was likely of very little practical use.
The important part at this young age is that Samuel is dedicated to the Lord. God will fill in the rest.
Samuel remains around the older men who were serving God as he grows. He watched and learned what it meant to serve God through their examples. He was taught the things of God. The Bible says Samuel ministered to God during his youth. He was doing what he could do as a young boy to serve the Lord.
He may not have been doing much more than sweeping the floor but he was doing it in service to the Lord. This simple service to God within his abilities prepared him for the much greater tasks later in life.
Samuel is going to do great things for the Lord. Yet, when God first calls him to service he is barely capable of feeding himself. He is none of the things that he will be. It takes growth, patience, and teaching from men of God and from God Himself to make Samuel the man God uses. This should be the beginning of service for every Christian. We don’t have to be Billy Graham but if there is a chair to be stacked or table to be cleared, it is an opportunity. This is the ministry that God uses to prepare us for further service.
God also begins to speak to us as we serve in the simple things. He shows us what we enjoy in His service. He strips away the selfishness and self-involvement that rule our lives. He highlights the things we enjoy. This is the most effective Spiritual Gifts test. Start serving in simple capacities. God will then mold us into the servant He can use. He will then give us the gifts we need to do His will.
Trained and Equipped
Samuel is trained in the Temple among the brethren. Then he is called by God to do specific tasks. As Samuel sets out to obey amazing things happen. He hears the voice of God. He is going to be a prophet, a judge and a priest. He is going to anoint two kings and hear the voice of God. These things do not take place until after years of humble service to the Lord. He is prepared in holiness and then given the gifts of the Spirit.
Learning to serve and understand the Spiritual Gifts is like the process of getting a drivers license. We are required to have a learners permit and practice driving before Dad trusts us with the car independently.
When Jesus saves us we are all in the same position as young Samuel at the Temple. We are ready and willing. We have a lot to learn. We need time spent around other mature believers doing what we can while watching and learning what it means to serve the Lord. When the Lord is ready, he will call each of us individually to step out of our time of immaturity and follow Him in our own specific calling. Then He will give us the gifts and skills needed to do that job.
It is a lot like learning to ride a bike. We first watch others and are told how to stay upright. We then have training wheels. This is followed by Mom or Dad running along beside us holding us up until we are ready to stay up on our own. Soon we are zipping about and getting up the nerve to trust our balance and jump off the curb.
Serving the Lord is a learned skill.
It takes growth in the Lord that follows time spent with Jesus. It comes after walking with Jesus and doing whatever we are able to do at that point for God. It is helped by spending our lives with others who are also seeking Jesus and watching what they do.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is not disappointed with the Corinthian church because they are drinking milk and not meat. Everyone has to start like babies and drink milk. It should just be the starting point for growing into a great life of service to the Lord wherever we may be called.
Do you wish to discover your Spiritual Gifts? It is not going to come from a test or seminar.
We all start as babes in Christ. Babies have no idea what God has in stor for them. If you want to learn about God’s plan for you start serving. You will discover very quickly the good and the bad about yourself. You will also learn how to serve and where God is pointing you.
Let us grow into our roles as prophets, priests, and servants.