Called to the Ministry
by Dr. Ken Matto
How many times have we heard the expression in church about someone, "they have been called to the ministry" or "they have the call of God on their life?" I think we have heard that expression many times especially when we hear a good sermon or a teaching and we instantly categorize that person as having the call of God upon their life. The word "call" is the Greek word "kaleo" which means to summon or invite and the word "ministry" is "diakonia" which simply means service or attendance." Could this be the reason that many Christians have relegated their spiritual involvement to others because they have compared themselves to some famous preacher or teacher and because they cannot be like them, they instantly believe they have nothing to offer.
Does the Bible really teach that God calls only a certain few to the ministry and the rest He does not? Or do we consider private ministry to be of less value than public ministry? Or could it be that we have the wrong perspective on ministry? These are three questions which we certainly must ponder because they are all legitimate. It is unfortunate that we get into a mindset believing that only a few are called to the ministry. If this was the case then God would not have planted a spiritual gift in each of His children. To be of the opinion that private ministry is of less value than public ministry is to say that probably 90% of all ministry is of lesser value. Ministry is done in homes, hospitals, on street corners, one on one, on the telephone, in restaurants, in funeral homes, and many other places where the camera and microphone are not present.
In Romans 12:7 we read, "Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;" Here we read that the gift of ministry is one of the specific preparation gifts which God doles out to some believers. Now when we read this verse can we conclude that only a certain few have the gift of ministry? The answer is yes and no. There are some people who are placed in the ministry whether it be evangelists, pastors, teachers and these have specific callings but every Christian is called upon to minister in different ways. Let us look at an example:
(Phile 1:1 KJV) Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
What do we know about the ministry of Philemon? There is very little written about him. He was not a preacher or evangelist or singer but we find that he was involved in the building of the Kingdom of God, we read in:
(Phile 1:2 KJV) And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
Notice we see that Philemon had a church in his house. It doesn’t say that he was the pastor or the leader but the Bible does say that he hosted a church in his home. Just because a person does not have the ability to lead a study it does not mean they cannot host one and bring in a teacher. This can lead to a formation of a church and another assembly may be born where the true gospel of Christ may be taught. The lesson here is that each Christian can contribute to the kingdom of God without having to be a leader or be in public ministry. So let us ask the question, Has God called you to the ministry? Let us take a look at 2 Corinthians 1 and see 11 ministries which are available to every Christian.
Ministry of Comfort
(2 Cor 1:4 KJV) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
The word "comfort" carries with it the meaning of "to call near or encourage." There are many Christians in this world that are hurting and need someone to come beside them to comfort them in times of grief or in times of tribulation which eventually comes to all of us. Each Christian knows someone who is going through rough times and sometimes we just need to tell them that we are in their corner and that they can call on us.
Ministry of Example
(2 Cor 1:6 KJV) And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
The ministry of example is to commiserate with others when they are going through tough times or times of a temptation. If we stay obedient unto the Lord during rough times, this will be an example to other Christians around us who will be observing us during the rough times we experience. Here Paul was identifying with those who were going through a time of suffering because he had suffered much for the sake of the gospel. Sometimes God may allow us to go through a rough time in preparation of helping out another Christian who may go through the same thing in the future. All situations we encounter and endure is done not only before others but before God and the angels. (Hebrews 4:13)
Ministry of Encouragement
(2 Cor 1:7 KJV) And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
If there is one thing, in these last days, that many Christians can use it is encouragement. Whenever we see a Christian going through a tough time it is always a great comfort to a person to get encouragement from others. Their time of trial may continue on for a while but in the midst if they receive encouragement, it boosts a person’s outlook and they can face the trial much stronger.
Ministry of Enlightenment
(2 Cor 1:8 KJV) For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
Here the Apostle Paul is telling the Corinthian Christians of troubles he encountered even to the point of impending death. The principle here is not to run and tell everyone when you stub your toe, the principle here is that Paul informed these believers of the perils of his ministry so they could pray for him in an intelligent manner. I want to transfer that principle to the study of Scripture. Whenever you discover a Bible truth during study, then you should share those with others in your circle of friends or at church. Enlightening others about Scripture will cause them to look at the study and will cause them to study also. This is how we provoke each other to good works. In all honesty, when someone comes up with a good and true study, don’t we feel a little bad that we did not come up with it and that may provoke us into a time of deeper study. Enlightening Christians on bible teachings is a good thing.
Ministry of Direction
(2 Cor 1:9 KJV) But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
How many times when Christians go into a tough time and are looking for the answers to their dilemmas in other people. How about those believers who are looking for answers to their questions? A person who helps another person by pointing them to Christ puts them in the right direction and helps re-focus their thinking. Paul was making a tremendous statement here that he was not trusting in himself or others but his trust was in God. Whenever we point believers to Christ in the midst of trials or grief, they will fare better than if they went to fifty Christians who will give them fifty one opinions.
Ministry of Prayer
(2 Cor 1:11 KJV) Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
One of the most powerful ministries anyone can have is that of prayer. Every Christian can pray for others without limiting it to a certain time and place. A prayer on the highway can be just as holy as a prayer said in an official setting. Susanna Wesley had 22 children and the only place she found solace for prayer was when she threw her apron over her head. If you are not sure how to pray for someone then use the model prayer in Colossians 1:9-12 and this will give a guideline on how to pray for someone.
Ministry of Giving
(2 Cor 1:11 KJV) Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
Another powerful ministry is giving to the Lord’s work. Well funded ministries can continue their mission without having to cut corners or areas of evangelism. If a person cannot get physically involved in a true ministry, they can become personally involved by helping to fund it. Financial giving is one of the easiest methods of becoming involved in world wide ministry. Yet, unfortunately for some it is easier to tithe to a new car dealer than tithe to a ministry. There is no such thing as giving too little or giving too much, if each gives according to their means, then ministries would be funded. Just think, if one million Christians gave $5 a month to a ministry, each year that ministry would yield 60 million dollars. The problem is that many Christians feel unless they can give $50 or $100, they can’t give anything because small gifts don’t matter. Oh yes they do! (Deu 16:17 KJV) Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.
Ministry of Conduct
(2 Cor 1:12 KJV) For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
Every Christian can conduct themselves according to Biblical principles and thus teach other Christians how to walk in this ungodly world. Paul walked according to the principles of Scripture and his testimony was excellent. The only time Paul seemed like he compromised his testimony was in Acts 21:26 where he purified himself and some others and then gave an offering according to the law. He did not purify himself for the purpose of keeping the law but to prevent a riot in Jerusalem as further reading shows that is exactly what happened.  However, his conduct was not out of the bounds of Scripture and he did not walk disorderly among the people. Our conduct in this world must be representative of our inward regeneration.
Ministry of the Written Word
(2 Cor 1:13 KJV) For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;
Another excellent ministry that anyone can get involved in is the ministry of the written word. You can write letters to people with a personal explanation of the gospel or you can hand out tracts. You can find a pen pal in a prison or out of the country and write. The written ministry is endless with many opportunities. A good principle of a writing ministry is that you can never be misquoted as those with a verbal ministry can. Once something is written, it stands as is and can never be watered down.
Ministry of Visitation
(2 Cor 1:15 KJV) And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;
With the advent of computers, the ministry of personal visitation has fallen off. Years ago personal visitation was a common thing. Today even ministers of churches do not visit their people at home. I remember Dr. Donald Hubbard, former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City was telling a story in one of his sermons. He received this from another pastor.  He visited a family unexpectedly during the day. The mother and a very young girl were home at the time. So they invited him in and the mother started talking to the pastor, so she called her little girl and said, "Go bring Mommy the big book that she is always reading out of." So the little girl scurried off and when she came back, instead of bringing the Bible she was carrying the Sears Catalog. Children can reveal so much about their parents. Visitation can be a great ministry and you need not only visit relatives and friends, there are many lonely people out there who would just love to entertain or go out for a cup of coffee, just to know they haven’t been forgotten.
Ministry of Confirmation
(2 Cor 1:21 KJV) Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
I am not speaking about taking a bunch of children and teaching them the Heidelberg Catechism. I am speaking about impressing upon Christians who they are in Christ. Many times Christians feel trampled down and feel they have been abandoned by God. This is the most troubling scenario a Christian can believe since there is not a smidgen of truth to it. When tough times come, for some Christians to make it through, all they need is a re-affirmation of who they are in Christ. Too many times the pulpits pound and tell God’s people they are sinners. Well Christ did not redeem us to make us sinners. He redeemed us as children of the living God. (1 John 3:9 KJV) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Too many Christians walk around with such long faces they can shovel snow as they walk along. Those that are born of God, as the Scriptures teach, cannot sin. Why? Because every sin that we ever committed or will commit, has been atoned for already. You see time has no effect on grace. Calvary covered and removed every sin. Therefore, we are not sinners in God’s sight but redeemed elect and no true Christian should ever believe anything else for the Scriptures teach nothing else. Many Christians just need that spiritual shot in the arm to keep them going and to progress in the Christian walk.
There is no reason for any Christian to be sidelined with the idea they don’t have a ministry. I have presented 11 ministries from the Scriptures which show that each of us have a part in the building of the kingdom of God. So the answer to our original question, is yes, You have been called to the ministry, now find where you belong and God will guide you into where He has empowered you to work, so you will be able to fulfill the ministry He has planned for you. (Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.