[b]Called by God
There is a lot of difference between "a profession" and
"a calling". Let me explain what I mean. Suppose theres a sick
child in a hospital and a nurse looks after it for 8 hours
on her shift-duty. That nurse then goes home and forgets all
about that child. Her concern for that child was only for 8
hours. Now she has other things to do, such as going to the
movies and watching television. She doesnt have to think
about that child again until the next day when she goes back
to work. But the mother of that child doesnt work 8-hour
shifts! She cant go to the movies when her child is sick.
Thats the difference between a profession and a calling.
If you apply that illustration to the way you care for the
believers in your church, youll discover whether youre a
nurse or a mother!
Paul said, in 1 Thessalonians 2:7, "We proved to be gentle
among you as a mother tenderly cares for her own children.
Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well pleased
to impart you not only the gospel but also our own lives
because youve become very dear to us". Paul not only
imparted the gospel of God to those Christians but his life
as well. Any ministry that is not done in this way is not
really Christian ministry. Paul served God like that because
he had a calling to the ministry. He didnt take it up as a profession.
Its wonderful to serve the Lord. It is the greatest thing
in the world. Nothing on earth can be compared with it -
but only if youre called. It cannot be reduced to a profession.
God called me to serve Him (full-time) on May 6, 1964 when
I was an officer in the Indian Navy. I handed in my
resignation then to the naval authorities. But it was like
Moses asking Pharaoh to let the Israelites go! The Indian
Navy wouldnt release me. It took two years and repeated
applications before they finally released me - miraculously
- in Gods perfect time. Being called of God has made all
the difference in my life. First of all, it doesnt matter
to me now, what people think about me or my ministry,
because Someone Else is my Master and I have to answer only
to Him. Secondly, I can trust God to stand by me and give me
grace whenever I face any trial or opposition in my ministry
- and that happens often. Thirdly, it doesnt matter to me
whether I receive any money or not, and whether I get any
food to eat or not. If I receive food and money, well and good.
If I dont get any food or money, thats fine with me too.
I cannot stop serving the Lord, just because I didnt
get money or food - because God has called me.
I cant get rid of my calling. Im not a salaried employee
who can stop working when Im not paid or fed! Its like the
case of the mother and her child. A nurse will stop working
if her salary is not paid one month. But a mother can never stop.
She doesnt get a salary in any case! And shell look
after her baby even if she doesnt get any food or money!
Thats how the apostles served the Lord. What a glorious
thing it is to be called of God! You can never do the Lords
work, the way God wants you to do it, if you do it as a
profession. It has to be a calling or nothing. Every other
job in the world can be done as a profession. But not a
mothers, or a fathers, or that of a servant of the Lord!
All these are the result of a calling. Paul told the
Corinthian Christians that even if they had 10,000 teachers,
they still had only one father (1 Cor.4:15). Paul was both a
spiritual father and a mother to his flock. His was not a
profession but a calling.
"Take this child and nurse him for me and I shall give you
your wages" is what the Lord has said to me (Exod.2:9).
He said that to me first of all concerning my own physical
children. And then He said that to me concerning my
spiritual children too. When we take care of Gods children
Hes the One Who is responsible to give us our wages, not man.
If we serve men, then let us look to men to pay us. But
if we serve the Lord, then let us look to Him alone to
provide us our needs, in whatever way He sees fit. And let
Him also decide how much we should receive each month.
There is a dignity about a true servant of the Lord. "Take these
children and nurse them for Me", says the Lord, "Bring them
up for me and I will give you your wages". Those wages will
not be in terms of money, primarily. I believe the Lord
takes care of our earthly needs, since He taught us to pray
for our daily bread and He has ordained that those who
preach the gospel should live of the gospel. So He will take
care of all our earthly needs. But therell be a far greater
spiritual reward, in addition. Paul wrote to the Christians
at Thessalonica that they were going to be his crown and his
joy when the Lord returned (1 Thess.2:19). He found his
delight in them, just as a father finds his delight in his children.
An elder (who is a spiritual father) will be delighted when
he sees that believers, who came as raw material to his
church once, have now become men of God. This is something
akin to the delight a sculptor has when he has fashioned a
shapeless rock into a human form. He had to chip away at
that block for many months and years before the face and
figure of the man came out of it! That is the work that God
has given us to do too. We must never be satisfied with
merely having instructed people correctly. If the image of
Christ has not come forth in their lives, we have
accomplished nothing at all.