5 Bad Reasons To Pursue Vocational Ministry...
Big Idea | “You should pursue vocational ministry because you’re called by God, not compelled by circumstance and emotion.”
“How do I confirm if God’s calling me into full-time vocational ministry?”
This is a question I’m being asked more and more. Young people, old people, rich people, poor people, successful and established people - I’m encountering a growing number of people considering a call to full-time vocational ministry - vocational, meaning “paid".
Every Christian is called to “full-time” ministry. There is never a season, time, or circumstance in which a follower of Christ is not to minister the good news of Jesus to those around them. Baristas and bartenders, students and stay-at-home moms, business people and bankers, those in construction and childcare, medical providers and machinists - all of us are to always minister to those God providentially places in our lives.
Because every Christian is called to full-time ministry, I always want to know why it is an individual feels called to ministry vocationally. You may think, “Who cares? They want to serve Jesus, so what does it matter why they want to?” Well, it matters a lot. The truth is, there are a great many BAD reasons to pursue vocational ministry - Here are the five most common I hear:
1. Because I hate what I’m currently doing.
Anytime someone starts their answer with, “I’m so tired of my current job…” I get really nervous. If you’re discontent where God has you, you’ll be discontent where He puts you. The grass isn’t greener. In fact, it’s often more brown, in need of more water, and demands more effort. There are times God dries up your present position to prepare you for the next, but more often God wants to sanctify you right where you are. We minister because we’re called, not because we’re tired of our current circumstance.
2. Because I desire an influential platform.
Although nobody comes right out and says it like this, power and influence remain major motivators for many would-be ministers. “I get to stand on a stage. People come to me for counsel. People will rely on me, listen to me, and love me.” If you have any of that, you need to hear the siren the Holy Spirit is sounding in your heart. We don’t minister for platform, or power. We minister because we’re called.
3. Because I think I can do it better.
I love church planters. I am a church planter. We’re a rare breed. But if I meet one more church planter whose entire pitch can be summarized as “Come join my church, 'cause we’re better” I’m gonna puke. Better theology, music, preaching, small groups, classes, whatever… You might be better than the guy down the street, but if you don’t check your pride before God puts you on your back, you’re in trouble. Ministry’s not a competition, it’s a calling.
4. Because it seems more meaningful.
“Ministry just seems so meaningful. You get to invest your entire life in helping people cross from death to life. I want a job with that kind of meaning.” If you’ve ever thought anything like that, listen up - YOU HAVE ONE. The purpose of every Christian life is to know Jesus and make Him known. If you can’t do that where you are, you probably can’t do it in a church. Yes, pastoral ministry is an exceptionally and obviously meaningful vocation. But “meaning” alone is a bad reason to pursue ministry - it’s about a calling.
5. Because a particular ministry blessed me personally.
Just because a particular ministry like your high school youth group, CRU, Young Life, Awana, or Intervarsity blessed you personally does not mean God’s called you to invest your life in it. That may be part of it. But often all you saw of the ministry that was so meaningful to you was the upfront service, the retreat, or a particular relationship that God used in your life. What you didn’t see and may not be aware of are the countless other responsibilities and expectations that aren’t nearly as attractive. Blindly pursuing ministry because it blessed you is not just bad, it’s dangerous.
I think I have the best job in the entire world…for me. God’s called me to it. I’m 100% confident in that and it was confirmed by the community God put around me. But it’s not all sermons and songs. It’s difficult, dirty, and draining work. If you’re called to this, then praise God. But just make sure your motives are right and your calling is clear.
Pursue vocational ministry because you’re called by God, not compelled by your circumstances and emotions.