By Richard Heard
One of the most important, and perhaps because of this, one of the most agonizing times in the life of someone contemplating a future in the ministry is when that person thinks he feels the call of God on his heart. He must attempt to determine whether or not God is actually calling him and, if so, into what field of ministry the Lord is leading him. With much prayer and fasting and with sincere efforts to try to find the will of God for his life, he will place on one scale the awesome responsibilities of a calling that will be directly involved in deciding the eternal destinies of souls. On the other scale will be the relatively simple responsibilities of secular employment.
The admonition of the Bible is that no man can assume the ministry on his own, the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. A steady job, depend able income, and the desire of every good husband and father to provide well for his family struggle with an uncertain financial future in the ministry. A called minister enters a time of great searching of heart and a time of humbling of himself to the will of God for his life. It is in these crucial emotional experiences God breaks him down to the point that he can he submissive. He then can become an instrument that God can use successfully to reach a world that needs to be touched by the Spirit of God.
It is in the surrender and giving up of our ambitions that we prove to God our dependability for the calling that He is leading us into.
God desires faithfulness from all of His people, but He demands it from the ministry. A preacher is a leader of men, and he must exemplify total dedication to the call of Christ. He must be dedicated to reach all unsaved world, and lie must demonstrate the characteristics of true sainthood in his living. He can never expect someone to have a greater burden for the lost than he demonstrates to his congregation. Neither can he expect others to be more godly and more Christ like in their living than he is willing to show them how to live.
To acknowledge your calling to preach is to announce yourself a soldier for Christ in a way that you never knew as a saint in a local assembly. You will find yourself in the front lines of the battle with spiritual opposition. Great and satanic powers will attempt to destroy the work of God by attacking you. Paul said that he fought beasts at Ephesus, and so it is in the life of every minister. Preachers can expect great opposition because the devil knows that if he can destroy the ministry then the work of God cannot go forward successfully.
There will be dark days of despondency and depression when you hoped for much but saw very little happen. Perhaps you pray a great deal, but it seems that your prayers are slow in being answered.
All of your burdens become heavy. Bills come due and no money to pay them. Other problems will seem threatening because no answers seem to be forth coming. In these moments, the devil will tell you that the struggle is futile, so why not give it up, He will tell you that since your ministry is not very productive in the kingdom of God anyway, why not find a job and forget trying to preach?
When these pressures and demands are placed upon you, you must know for certain that you are called to preach. A person who is not sure that he has been called to the ministry will become discouraged and give up and with embarrassment go back to a local assembly to serve as a saint. The matter could be worse. Under pressure, he may find himself yielding to temptation and losing out with God altogether.
On occasions, Noah may have felt like laying down his hammer and saw and forgetting about building an ark, but he could not escape the day that God had spoken directly to him regarding this matter. Even Moses, as great a leader as he was, became distressed with the rebellion and unfaithfulness in the congregation of Israel. Had it not been for the burning bush and a definite call from God, Moses might have left the troubled life as a leader of Israel to go back to a quiet life of tending sheep. Jeremiah became so discouraged that he purposed that he would not speak again in the name of the Lord, but he could not hold his peace when the prophetic word burned within him like fire shut up in his bones.
So certain was the Apostle Paul of his calling to the ministry that he stated, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (I Corinthians 9:16). The certainty of his calling must have been a comfort to this man who endured many kinds of troubles during his ministry. He knew what it was like to be shipwrecked, beaten, in distress, robbed, hungry in fasting, misunderstood, and reviled. The Apostle Paul was able to stand under every kind of pressure because he knew his God had called him and would be with him.
Being certain of your calling will give you a feeling of destiny. It will build your faith for the challenge of the task you are to accomplish.
With most of our world lost, and so very few saved, it would be easy to feel that our task was hope less. We could feel that we are trying to drain the Atlantic Ocean with a mere tea cup if it were not for the fact that God has called us. If God called us and if God believes in us, then we can believe in ourselves that with God our ministry will make an effective impact on a world that is lost.
Moses ceased to offer excuses for his poor speaking ability when he became certain that God was calling him to deliver the people of Israel. Jeremiah ceased to offer an excuse when he was positive that he had heard the voice of the Lord. The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Such is the feeling that one receives when he is fully persuaded and convinced that he has been called to do a work for God.
Were it not for a feeling of destiny, a minister who is truly burdened for the lost could be overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness and despair. When we stand in some of our major cities and look up into towering skyscrapers and apartment buildings and office complexes, we realize that there are millions of people who will live and die without ever hearing the truth preached.
It is my conclusion, after having talked to many ministers of the gospel, that the call of God seldom comes in a single visit from the Lord in which God out lines His plan for your life. Rather the call begins with a desire to do something for God and grows and grows and grows until you cannot any longer live as an ordinary individual and be satisfied with ordinary secular employment. The cry of the lost souls rings loud in your ears. It seems that your heart will break if you cannot help them. You become so dissatisfied with ordinary life, and the things that once gave you pleasure become empty and frustrating.
So strong did this desire to preach become in my heart that I have often said if God had not called me to preach, I would have been one of the most disappointed men in all of Louisiana.
For many years it was thought that the office of the evangelist was to be filled by pastors that were between churches and by those who were new to the ministry. By evangelizing, it was thought that new ministers could gain enough experience at preaching to be able to assume the pastorate of a congregation of people. Evangelizing was often looked upon as a way to gain experience or a way to stay active in the ministry until a church came opened. Because of this approach, revivals were hindered and the work of God was not as successful as it could have been. The fact that the office of the evangelist was a vital part of the five-fold ministry was not stressed. As certainly as God called men to be pastors in certain cities, so did God call men to become career evangelists. It is not an inferior ministry or just a proving ground or a training ground for young ministers until they are capable and experienced enough to move forward into some higher type of ministry. The evangelistic ministry is used of God to fan the fires of revival in churches until victory is won and apostolic power prevails. Miracles and healings occur and faith soars as night after night in successive services a church is exposed to the white-hot heart and fervent spirit of a God-called evangelist.
The carpet at altars is wet with hot tears of repented sinners as they weep their way to Calvary. Lines form at the baptistry and wet baptismal robes are sent home to be washed and dried. Converts experience the glorious wonder and miracle of the washing away of their sills through the power of the name of Jesus Christ. Then follows the miracle of regeneration as the Holy Ghost fills hungry and seeking souls.
As much or more than any other type of ministry, the evangelist is identified with the actual work of reaching and winning the lost to Christ. Never has the need for God-called evangelists been so great. The words of Jesus, that we should pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest, could easily be paraphrased to say that we should pray that God would send forth more evangelists to do the work that needs to be done. The evangelist will certainly play an important role in the endtime revival, which we see now beginning that will probably culminate in the return of Jesus Christ for His church. We need more than pastors who are traveling between churches and more than young men who are wishing to gain experience so that they can assume the pastoral of a congregation of people. All of these ministries are important and certainly they have their place in the kingdom of God. But one of the greatest needs of this hour is for men who have been called of God to be an evangelist to proclaim with power the gospel to a lost generation.
THE SPECIALIZATION OF MINISTRIES
Just as in medical science there are many areas of specialization that one can train for, so in the evangelistic ministry there are different works that one can specialize in. Some years ago when machinery was fairly simple, and technology was not as developed as it is now, a man employed at a certain company may be required to learn every facet or every aspect of the work that the company did. That is no longer expected of most individuals. Technology has expanded so that it is often impossible for one person to keep up with all the latest developments in his field of employment. The old saying, “A jack of all trades but a master of none,” may apply to a minister’s attempt to do every task of the ministry. This does not take away from the concept of a well rounded ministry that all of us should have, but it allows God to use His unique talents that He has given individually to each of us. Not any one minister can do all tasks of the ministry effectively, but he has talents that equip him to excel in some aspects of the work.
Two of the areas of specialization in the evangelistic ministry that we will consider are the ministry of stirring a church and the ministry of reaching the unsaved. While every successful evangelist will both stir the church and will see many people receive the Holy Ghost as the result of his ministry, he will probably excel in one or the other.
As this world in these last days becomes more pre occupied with its sinful lifestyle, the tendency for the church is to become protective of its standards and social needs, and become complacent toward winning the lost. In these times, the ministry must break in to the routine of the church, wake the saints up, and cause them to see clearly the eternal things of God. Saints can become careless in their living. Sin can find its way into hearts, and churches can be beset by internal problems. Pastors need and long for a strong anointed ministry of an evangelist whom they can trust to help their flock to live spiritually.
After years of believing that no one wanted our message, the United Pentecostal Church is discovering that the world is hungry for what we have. Bible studies and other means of outreach have lead to situations where churches are filled with unsaved visitors and the pastor looks around for someone to help him reap the harvest. He is not interested in having someone to teach tithing to his congregation or why the United Pentecostal women do not cut their hair. He needs someone who knows how to reach those unsaved men and women and cause them to be convicted of their sins and decide to surrender their lives to God in repentance and to be baptized in Jesus’ name and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Such an evangelist is an invaluable aid to a pastor who is attempting to reach his city. Jesus said that if a shepherd has one hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, he will leave the ninety-nine and seek after the one that is lost until he has found it.
An evangelist should seek God until he knows the direction that God wishes for his ministry to take. Few things can be as frustrating for an evangelist as not being certain of the direction his ministry should go.
The first three years of my evangelistic ministry were the most frustrating that I have ever lived. I tried my best to have revivals the way other evangelists were having them, but I never seemed to be able to feel the satisfaction that they seemed to be experiencing. This feeling of frustration persisted until I set a time of prayer and fasting and earnest seeking for the will of God. The Lord revealed to me his plan for my life. I have never been as happy as I am because I know what God wants me to do.
A final wood of caution should be added here. Once you know the direction for your ministry, pursue it with all of your heart. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. A lost and dying world awaits to hear your voice. Someone needs your specific ministry before they can ever be touched by the hand of God.
To fail to apply yourself to what God has called you to do would be a dereliction of the greatest duty that has ever been placed upon the shoulders of man kind. Eternal souls will be lost as a result, and if they fulfill you ministry. This is an admonition that we should take seriously. The Jonahs that have run from their calling have let us know there is no escape from God. The Demas’ who have loved this present world and have become involved in it to the point they have lost out with god are warnings to us of the dangers of less than total consecration and commitment.
To those who are willing to give themselves to their ministry, the sky is indeed the limit.
From “The Total Evangelist” compiled by Randy Bowerman
Home Missions Division, Publisher