I am often asked, “How do I get started in ministry?” Here is my testimony and wisdom for those who desire to make ministry a full time career. For the many veterans in ministry that read my blog, pass this on to some “young guns” you know.
When I graduated from Bible college I was filled with just enough knowledge to be dangerous and packed full of zeal for the Lord. I knew the vision God had placed in my heart to become a youth pastor and transform the lives of countless teenagers. This was the career path I knew I was to take. Ministry was what I wanted to do day in and day out for the rest of my life. Yet as a young 20-something NOBODY was interested in hiring this “young gun” because I was no “top gun”. I was unproven and had no track record of faithfulness as a minister. I was a tree with no fruit. Welcome to the summer of 1981 when my ministry career began.
In June 1981 I planted myself in Dallas, Texas and I knew God had led me to a specific church to get involved. It was one of the nation’s largest churches at the time and they already had a youth pastor. But one of scriptures that stuck with me as I left Bible College was Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift makes room for him,? and brings him before great men.” In my limited knowledge I was smart enough to know this; “If I will plant my gift in a church and pour myself into it, then somewhere, somehow, that gift will create a place for me. I need to become so valuable as a volunteer that they can’t afford to do church without me. I believe I have a gift the Kingdom needs, wants and desires. But I have to plant myself and produce fruit. When I produce fruit it will get the attention of great people in the Kingdom and open doors for me.”
The problem with those starting in the ministry today–they want it all delivered on a silver platter. “God, I’ll do this but you have to open a door for a JOB (that pays me to do Your work).” And when you ask them for help in an area outside their passion you get, “That’s not my calling pastor, sorry.” The art of serving, giving, planting, and investing is slipping away in the body of Christ. My Jesus and my Bible instructs me that I am to be different than everyone else. When the law of the land required you to carry a Roman soldiers pack and gear one mile, Jesus said, “Go above and beyond the call of duty. Double it! Carry his gear TWO miles.” Everybody has their sites on doing GREAT things for the Kingdom of God but feel they are too good to do the “little things.” Jesus said, “Be faithful in the small things and THEN you will be promoted and put over much.”
It seems like most folks today want to leap frog to the “much” side of life without doing the “little.” Pride is running rampant in the body of Christ under the mask of spirituality and the disguise of “that’s not my calling.” That is rubbish. Let me predict that person’s future. You will be sitting on the sideline’s of life and ministry five years from now and ten years from now, saying, “I just don’t understand why God hasn’t opened a door for me to get into the ministry. People just don’t respect my gift.” It is everyone else’s fault you’re not in the full time ministry. The body of Christ if filled with WANNA-BEES! People who “wanna-be” in ministry. People who wanna-be getting paid for their ministry gift. Many are like a tumor that drains the life and blood from the body because they think the body is there to serve them and their gift. When in reality they should be investing their gift into the Body of Christ, expecting nothing in return but a reward in heaven. Giving their gift, planting their gift, and pouring out their life to advance the cause of Christ. Your gift will make room for you if you will just plant it and be faithful! Let me show you . . .
Let’s get back to 1981. I met with the youth pastor and said, I am a Bible College grad and I am here to help in any way possible. When I said it he crumpled up a piece of paper on his desk and threw it in the trash and said, “That was an announcement I was going to put in the bulletin about a need for a Sunday School teacher. You’re it.” For the next 12 months I volunteered my brains out in EVERY area and facet of the church, not just in the youth ministry. I became a prayer room counselor, helped answer phones in the call center, helped usher, park cars, build sets, and volunteered whenever and wherever I could. I worked part time jobs to cover my basic expenses, but if I wasn’t at work, I was at the church volunteering and planting my gift. I even helped run camera for a children’s program on Saturday mornings, ugh. But that finally led to a day job at the church on the film crew and then I still volunteered nights with the youth ministry. But this taught me how to do video editing, direct programs, do lighting, shoot testimonials, set design, and so much more. All of these talents and skills I would end up using throughout my ministry career.
Within twelve months of working full time on the video crew my gift made room for me and I was moved to the youth ministry department as the full time assistant youth pastor. From there, 20 more years of full time youth ministry and almost nine years of being a senior pastor. My gift made room for me and has brought me into relationships and associations with some of the nations brightest and most gifted leaders within the Body of Christ!
How do you get started in ministry? Volunteer in any and every way you can. Become so valuable to a ministry or church that they can’t live without you and WANT to pay you for your services because you do such an impeccable job. And . . . if they don’t hire you, someone will see the tremendous fruit on your tree and they will.
Quench The Thirst Of A Generation!