There comes a point in everyone’s life when they must decide—decide what she will be, what he will do, what she will create, what he will leave behind. These are important decisions. They can take a lot of time and a lot of prayer. But sometimes we just live . . . passive. After the decision to follow Jesus, we just follow.
God doesn’t always call you into the ministry but He always calls you to minister. Wherever you are, whatever your training, your background, your social circle, God can use you.
Naturally we react to things around us. When placed in a challenging or new situation, we observe and make decisions on how we should act. But reacting properly, reacting well, is a matter of preparation. It’s the reason that so much training goes into professional athletes or soldiers. Professional athletes build muscle memory so they can react in the way they have been trained. Anyone who has seen Stephen Curry shoot a basketball can attest to this. And this is why spiritual disciplines are so important. Paul recognised the discipline required in the spiritual realm: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
The more we learn about God and ourselves the more effective disciples we can be. How?
Paul knew a little bit about discipline. As a Pharisee he would have spent hours at study, poring over the scriptures, praying and fasting, equipped to debate and present his ideas and win over the thoughts of others. When God found him and changed him, He used Paul’s knowledge to good effect. Still Paul preached and debated, still he travelled to synagogues and presented the things that he lived for with as much force as he had when persecuting the church. But he had made a choice on how to use his skills.
First we must understand God’s plan, the gospel. Then we must examine our spheres of influence and our lifestyles. In what areas can I intentionally represent Christ? In what areas of my life am I missing opportunities because I am just living and reacting every day rather than understanding and utilising the gifts and connections God has given me?
God doesn’t always call you into the ministry but He always calls you to minister. Wherever you are, whatever your training, your background, your social circle, God can use you. He doesn’t necessarily want us to form Adventist enclaves (I’m looking at you Cooranbong!) but to live in the communities we are in and impact them for Him.
Timothy Keller in his book, Center Church, talks about the key ingredients for every-member gospel ministry. He says that it’s organic (it just happens in everyday life), it is relational, it is Word deploying (brings the gospel into people’s lives) and active (each person takes personal responsibility).
Ellen White writes on the importance of the Adventist home. She says, “Our sphere of influence may seem narrow, our ability small, our opportunities few, our acquirements limited; yet wonderful possibilities are ours through a faithful use of the opportunities of our own homes. If we will open our hearts and homes to the divine principles of life, we shall become channels for currents of life-giving power” (The Adventist Home, p33).
Sometimes the greatest challenge and the most impactful place we can be is right where God planted us, with the friends and family, with the industry, with the interest groups, that we’ve got. But we have to choose to see those places as our mission field. In those places, we are the light-bearers.
Jarrod Stackelroth is associate editor of Adventist Record.