An Addition, Not a Subtraction

I have always loved the idea of committing the self for full-time service to the Lord.

This post could be a defense, or maybe an elaboration. In my past confession, I was opening up that I had a real hard time deciding if I would still take up secular college – the dilemma was that if I would take another secular course (and pursue the secular teaching profession), it would only mean that I am giving up my ‘calling’ for a full-time ministry. And the making up of that decision was indeed breaking up my heart.

Truly heart-breaking and mind-hammering because I have always believed since I entered the Bible School that after graduating, my only path would be to pursue the full-time ministry, or at least have it alongside teaching at a Bible School.

So the year 2012 was very instrumental for me to learn new principles in life – in a hard and painful way – which involves laying down aside my former convictions.

For a long time, it was like taunting the self – I said to myself years before that I would never again study secular nor pursue secular profession, and I stood firmly for that conviction for years – but now I am swallowing it up. For months, I felt I have dishonoured and have been a good traitor of the self.

But though I would say that I really could not understand God’s ways (and for sure thousands of Christians out there would agree), at the back of my mind I have some logical reasoning that maybe, God truly wants me to take this new path of professional life – not as a subtraction to my desired full-time ministry life, but as a good addition.

By taking this new path, in this pilgrimage I will be given the best chance to face and overcome my fears in many areas, and grow up as a better person. Fears that would surely remain not faced and unchecked if I would pursue now the full-time ministry that I have wanted.

Walking bravely (and nervously) this strange new world would give me new attachments and relationships – and in effect widen my sphere of influence.

What would I say then? It is always best to trust the mysterious ways of God, though it often inflict pain and push our minds to the limits.

Truly, “His ways are not our ways.”

 

Advertisements

“If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.”

I was delivering a sermon on our Preaching Class.

‘If you can do anything else, do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.’

Those were the words of strong conviction by the great preacher Charles Spurgeon, affirmed by another great preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book Preaching and Preachers, page 105.

By the word ministry, these men pertain to Pastoral Ministry, with emphasis on the divine task of preaching. To explain their conviction, they only mean that if a man is called to preach (and to pastor), it should only be what he is doing, it is only his satisfaction and way of life. No secular work, no business. Just to pastor and preach.

Hard statement, and personally it hit my heart. I truly love the task of preaching: from preparing sermons, trying to live out the message and the act of delivering it to the church. Seeing that other pastors and fellow believers affirm me personally that I have the gift of preaching puts more confidence in my heart that I am called to preach.

However, that confidence is challenged as I read the above statement of Mr. Spurgeon. Right now I am facing an important decision that I have to make very soon: taking up secular college studies. Do I have to study again, this time in secular, with the purpose of teaching in secular schools someday? Then what about Spurgeon’s belief that Preaching is a calling so big that it demands your entire life? And if God is leading me to study in secular, then does that mean I am never called to preach?

Not just mind-hammering, but heart-tearing questions. Preaching is the passion of my life. And if Spurgeon’s conviction is biblical and true, then entering the secular career of teaching is in a sense ‘giving-up’ the call to preach and to pastor. Well of course I do not see Spurgeon as infallible, nor his words equal to the authority of the Bible. But he was a great man of God who dedicated all his life to the divine task of preaching. Very few can surpass the blessedness of his preaching ministry.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

And if Spurgeon were right, then how about the sincere pastors out there who have secular work? Are they sinning and belittling the call to preach?