Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Am I just reading the wrong sources?

A thought occurred to me as I read a blog post this morning.

The subject was this: advice on young men thinking of ministry. How to guide them.

The advice ran through some advice on good books to read. Commonly too we will hear of good conferences to go to; good tapes to listen to; good seminaries to consider; good training programs to get on.

That's all good, of course.

But I find myself wondering about the balance, in the circles I've mostly been in (and mostly, that's because of doctrinal convictions - ones which I see no need to change).

When I first spoke to a trusted, older friend who was in Christian ministry about my own wonderings about whether God was leading me that way, the major burden of that friend's advice was as follows. To look at where I was now, and what opportunities to serve people that God was giving me now. As I took those up, whilst still prayerfully considering my future direction, I would gain a deeper appreciation of what gifts and opportunities I did and didn't have, to serve Christ. Ultimately, all service to Christ must be humble self-giving. I ought to seek out opportunities to take part in unnoticed humble service; then God would show me what he wanted me to do in future.

I believe that if I had merely received advice, or received advice that was dominantly, pointing me to a list of books/resources/institutions/programmes etc., I would have been dealt with much less faithfully and fruitfully than I was.

Again, let me repeat the point. It's great to equip people with excellent resources. But serving Christ means humbly serving people. Emphasis is a subtle thing, of course. But I am not sure that in the circles I know and have known, that we've got it right. When someone starts asking about full-time service, we need to make the major point to emphasise how much they are doing to actually bring Christ's love to the nobodies who make up his flock and the lost. It's only in losing ourselves ultimately that we will find our true lives.

1 comment:

Ned Kelly said...

Good thinking, David. The salient point is that God has a mission for all of us, but guidance on how to discern that mission is lacking. Some of my Christian friends seemingly have the opinion that God will lead them without their asking - it is a matter of waiting on the Holy Spirit who will tell them what to do and when to do it. If you ask them why they do not do a particular thing, they will say that the Spirit has not placed it on their hearts.
I am uncomfortable with this passive approach.
Maybe it is simply a function of my personality, but I believe that the appropriate approach is to pray, inform God of what you intend to do, set out, and then wait for Him to correct you as He sees fit.
I believe that God wants volunteers, not a pool of the unemployed waiting to be assigned.