Raising Up In Ministry

by Pam Clark

    There is a great illustration of the five fold ministry demonstated by using the hand. It's said that the apostle is like the thumb, working and enabling the other four fold gifts to work better. The prophet is like the index finger, pointing toward the direction (which is Jesus) and pointing out the problems. The evangelist is the long middle finger, reaching out and beckoning others to come into the Church. The pastor is the ring finger, one who is married to the flock and is concerned about their daily cares and issues, and the teacher is the little finger, the one who is picky over the details in order for others to grasp the truth well.

    All of these ministry gifts are wonderful and are the leadership gifts. To say one has an office in these gifts usually means that person is devoted full time to that ministry. The office carries a governmental order in that devotion by their reason of strength in their ability to stand in it. Found among and around these office gifts are those who are babies or who are intermediate in their gifts.

    These are they who show a profound interest in these individual areas and who begin to study to show themselves approved. After the initial studies comes the hands on experience. This is where the office call is birthed or submitted to those who are. If a selfish root lies within the person, the rebellion to authority will manifest. If this is not overcome, a bitter criticizing spirit will usually take over. The question to ask oneself about this is, "Do I have authority over me that I will submit to and ask sincere advice from and take it?" If all you find yourself asking is opinions, then you are not really submitting.

    Church structure has order to it. If one feels their gifts should override that order, then they are out of order. Both Jesus and Paul are ones who Biblically show us that their best efforts, love and gifts were first submitted to the order of the structure before going outside of it to minister. In doing this, their gifts were brought back into the existing church order.

    These did not "steal sheep" but rather went and ministered to needs that the present structures were not reaching and addressing. Thus in doing that, they were contributing to the work of God rather than opposing it.

    Now it's interesting in using the illustration of the hand, that the ministry gifts come out as extensions from the hand. You can look at this as coming out of the Body of believers. Up and coming apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers will come out of the local church! But how they come out and how well they come out can depend greatly on how they are encouraged and equipped with the right understanding to come out!

    The most important thing to say at this juncture is that THE BURDEN IS NOT TOTALLY ON THE PASTOR!!! It would only make sense that in a healthy church, it would grow and breed either new churches or ministries within or both. All the gifts should breed and multiply by reason of their equipping. We must remember that the description of the five fold ministry is found in Ephesians 4:11-16. To come up with another description is extra-biblical unless it is a complementary Scripture passage. But the job description is clearly defined in Ephesians 4.

    In just pondering this, one should see the necessity of the balance of all of the five fold ministry gifts and God has set them in the Church in balance, but we must avail ourselves to these ministry gifts. We all, as Christians, must be productive and reproduce in whatever we do. Otherwise we are as the slothful servant who sat on his talent resenting the king's interest. Instead of finding the best in himself, the slothful servant stopped and pouted and made sterile his contribution and was not rewarded but stripped! (see Matthew 25)

    If one feels the calling to the pastorate, then most likely they will be drawn to one who will nurture them in that calling. If a pastor is strong in that area but not the other gifts, and even weak in needing to see the need of balance, it can be difficult for those who feel callings in the other areas. Often this is an area of great frustration for them! And it is understandable when the call is tugging and the education and mentoring is not there.

    But lest I give one opportunity to place blame on the pastor, I remind you that the first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength! So have you done that? And the Lord says if you will seek Him with all of your heart, you will find Him! This may mean what seems to be extreme measures in maturing in your calling. (Notice, I did not say bizarre.)

    Sometimes, in all our lives, what we live for and believe in is tested, and to come into that full calling and walk takes an extreme effort on our part. We will be tested to see what we are made of! The enemy will test us to see if we are standing in the Lord and the Lord will test us to see what our abilities are from the measure of faith that He has given us. When He comes will He find faith in the earth?

    If you feel a tug into areas that you don't understand, begin seeking the Lord. The way to do that obviously is through studying the Word and prayer and fasting and keeping Godly company. But sometimes the hunger is more and then we must step out of our comfort zones to find just what is the will of God for our lives. Often we find that what we thought we wanted, we really didn't! But other times, doors will open into avenues that we did not know even existed! The Scriptures are always our measuring stick, but it's a big Church, global in size! And there are still more needs out there than there are people to meet them! If you feel unneeded, you may be in the wrong place, or you may not be offering your gifts in a way people can take advantage of them!

    Young prophets and apostles can especially have difficult times in that they see order beyond the local boundaries and status quo. They can either submit their gift to the local body to be used with graciousness, and be in-house ministries (and many are called to that), or they can venture out and offer their gifts to those beyond the local body. But in doing that they find that not every place operates the same way as the place where they just came out, and so adjusting and maturing must take place to get along and come into order!

    The Bible says that your gift will make room for you. (Proverbs 18:16) That means that God has a purpose for your gift and a place. Sometimes in offering our gifts we do not feel that people are receiving when in fact they are. The burden of the Church at large is on God's shoulder's not ours. We just must be willing to do our parts and stand for His truths and love.

    God is not the author of discord and strife but so often it seems inevitable. But with maturity comes the ability to deal with it, as it comes from the enemy and not the Lord. Avail yourself to education in your ministry interests. If you know your ministry call, study diligently to show yourself approved. Don't go studying other people's gifts when you need to be studying your own! It's good to be balanced in your understanding, and sometimes good to see another vantage point, but be proficient in what you are called to do. If you master one area well, you may be developed in more and be a choice instrument in the Master's hands.

    In all you do, are you about the Master's good service in producing His good Spiritual fruit? Abraham was blessed (Genesis 18:19) for bringing up his house in the order of the Lord. You are taught to judge the tree by the fruit it produces! If the fruit you are eating is not good, pray and begin looking for the fruit you need and desire. Most times, especially for the matured, it comes by seeking God for it; it doesn't just fall in your lap anymore (if it ever did), but it's out there! You know how to discern it with the Word by observing what fruit is being produced in you! What are you reproducing?

    Sometimes it seems like we are doing nothing but our very faith is holding up a structure of immeasurable worth. Find your faith and trust in God and know that it is His good pleasure to give you the Kingdom in purity, love, sufficiency, hope and peace. I bless you in His Name and service.

    Pam Clark