*Disclaimer: This is not a woe is me post. Enjoy!
“You have been called to full-time ministry and I believe you know that. He (God) wants to confirm that because the enemy is going to challenge you at some point about it. When that time comes, remember that God has spoken it and you have known it, but God has called you to full-time ministry. You were created for it. You were created to serve him; to be a father and a leader in the house.” A person who is considered to have a strong prophetic gift gave me, Doug, a very specific word about my calling about 17 years ago. I did know it, or at least I was pretty sure and that word solidified it for me.
Many people have heard, “Every believer is in full time ministry.” It’s true we are called to follow Jesus’ example and carry the Good News everywhere we go, love others and love God. What about those who feel called to full-time vocational ministry? What about being bi-vocational as Paul was? He was a tentmaker. Even Jesus was a full time carpenter for many years prior to ministering.
So, what do we do after we have stepped out in faith but there isn’t enough money to pay the bills? What about us at Shiloh Place? What about sharing Father’s love through preaching? Both Sarah and I have been told for years we were called to full-time ministry. If we can’t pay the bills, does that mean we must not be called? It’s possible. But, is there fruit from the ministry? If the answer is yes, but the finances just aren’t there; what then? Is your response, “Well, God, you aren’t doing your part. I am ministering the way you said to, so why can’t I pay my basic bills? Does God not love us enough to provide for us?”
Sarah and I have been wrestling with this for a long time. We would like to share some thoughts.
Do I Lack Faith?
Maybe you got a word about ministering to many, many people, or something of the sort? The tricky part is ministering to many people does not necessarily equate to a full-time salary. It’s a struggle because it often feels like you have to work 80 hours a week and only part of that is generating income. Sarah and I have felt this weight very heavy, especially with a young family.
The word I got 17 years ago also said, “I hear the Lord saying He will provide for you. There will be a stretching in that area. There will be a season of temptation of saying, ‘but I have to provide for my family. That’s my responsibility’ but I hear the Lord saying, ‘I will provide. I will take care of you.’ He will provide the finances you need. When you need them they will come.”
Now, this has been difficult to wrestle with. I certainly don’t want to lack faith, but I have definitely wavered, wondering if things were going to come through. Sometimes they haven’t come through. Since I started ministering with Shiloh Place ten years ago, I worked in one non-ministry job. Last summer I delivered pizzas to cover the cost of medical bills. I hope that was not lacking faith.
If you watched the recent Facebook Live video about this, you know we are looking at that possibility again. I am looking at a couple of job opportunities that will allow me the flexibility to continue in ministry, while I hold tight to the promise that He will provide. I have freedom knowing it doesn’t have to be one or the other, as I once thought. Three years ago Sarah began working as a nutrition counselor and it has been a huge help.
A Not So Secret to Success
I believe the words spoken over me are true. I won’t let that go, but I also won’t lose my house or allow my kids to go without over the words of a prophet. In our faith, we won’t set an example that the church comes before our kids.
The whole reason for writing this is to encourage others going through this. Sarah and I won’t allow disappointment to derail us from the ministry calling on our lives. God didn’t come to meet our every little need and want. He came to transform our lives. Because we were transformed, many others are also transformed. As such, we are working to find balance in being bi-vocational parents who will continue to receive God’s love and give it away to the next person we meet. We hope someone out there reading this will also look to find balance as well.
You may have seen Sarah share about her disappointments, pain, and struggle over the past 12 years. Sometimes it is too much for us to handle and that’s OK. Allow yourselves those moments when they come to you. Then go back to God with it. For us, it seems choosing to answer the call is a daily event, although we would prefer to be resolute, say, “Lord send us. We will go!” and dive into ministry without looking back. Unfortunately, it’s not always quite that simple. Perhaps our cry should be, “Lord, finance us and we will go!” I’m kidding, but it is something to think about.
This is my encouragement to those looking to go into vocational ministry, especially our younger friends. Go into ministry with a vision to answer God’s call on your life and embrace the idea of working a second job as Paul did. Maybe follow the example of Jesus, and begin a vocational job that pays well and save and then go into ministry. If you start with that vision early it will save you heartache. You may also find out you have plenty of time and finances to minister in your calling inside and outside the marketplace.