The First Step toward Stupid (#672)

A listener email starts a discussion about calling, especially as it relates to full-time ministry. Brad and Wayne try to parse out the genuine from the contrived as they talk about their own sense of calling and whether or not the pastor's role as it has emerged over the centuries fulfills what Jesus had in mind. Brad is becoming increasingly involved in a local congregation that has asked his help in exploring a more vibrant relationship with God, but it already encountering some of the dynamics that make that difficult. Exalting someone above others and investing them with an "anointing" others must follow, has probably done more to sidetrack the church, creating it in our image instead of his.

Podcast Notes:
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  1. Thanks for another thought provoking podcast/conversation! Wondering….in Scripture it does say “..Jesus….went up to the synagogue…as was his custom…”…does that mean He saw it as a conventional part of his “sabbath” and how does that fit with the freedom He taught and lived in with his disciples (and others). If you have time for a response, would like to read your thoughts. Thanks! Sue

    • Hi Sue. Glad you’re listening to the podcasts. The short answer, is we don’t know, do we? Having come to the Jews to offer them Father’s love, it would make sense that he would be in the places they frequented. I don’t think he did it as a “Law”, or an example we should all “follow.” It was his custom, a routine that was part of his culture and as such he was part of it. So, he wasn’t laying down a principle here we all need to obey if that’s what you’re asking.

  2. Loved this discussion! I think about Jesus’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane for those who followed him and those who would follow the words that he spoke in the future. He expressed such a strong desire for their relationship with God and also himself. This is what genuine leadership is all about. Every time I read that section in John 17, I get so blessed. Great podcast!

  3. I could personally relate to many of the points that were raised in today’s podcast. I have some personal thoughts about motivations that propels a person to seek “ministry” .

    The environment of elevating both the missionary and leadership to a higher state of “being Christian” was prevalent in my upbringing, and while I was not being specifically “called”, I always thought that if I could marry my vocation with service in the church (work for the kingdom), my work would be elevated and be made holier somehow. A series of events in my life finally put that to an end, when a failed attempt at trying to attain that combination resulted in a clear understanding from the Lord that my vocation was one of my callings, and that whether I did it for a church or a business “in the world” I was fulfilling His calling for my life. Why do I call it a calling? Because it was clear that I was gifted by God in the skills required to accomplish the task. All that I do (in or out of church) is in His kingdom. I take the kingdom with me.

    It seems so foolish now in hindsight, but I discovered during the same time that this is not uncommon in believers.

    A friend of mine who counsels seminary students discovered that more than half of the students were in seminary not because they had a calling, or that they felt gifted to be in ministry, or that they were even really interested in it. They were there because they so desperately wanted to please God and the only way they felt they really could do that was in ministry. Upon further examination it became clear that many of them had OTHER gifts that were far better suited for other vocations, but their fear of displeasing God drove them to give up on the very gifts that God had created them with.

    A scripture that has really helped me to relax about the will of God, or his calling is:
    Phil 2:13 NIV For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him.

    As His child, I find that I need look not much further than what or who is in front of me now, what is of interest now, what draws my heart now is more than likely something that God has been working in me to will and to do already. I don’t think that God goes out of his way to make things complicated or that hard to find.

  4. I appreciate the depth of this conversation. So many scriptures came to my mind as you were speaking. It’s sad that Christians are unaware of how the adversary counterfeits the Truth – he runs right alongside the genuine to deceive the very elect. He tricks well meaning believers to pursue service to God based on human ideas rather than the Scriptures and the energizing of that gift within. Ephesians is so clear how the body of Christ is to function. He is the HEAD and HE is the one who gave gift ministries FOR the perfecting [MENDING] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11 & 12). We as God’s kids are each “members in particular” placed in the body as it has “pleased HIM” (1 Cor. 12). When EACH member of the body is functioning, the whole body is built up. That is what a true minister/pastor (whatever you want to call it) is supposed to do – bring out the best functioning of each believer by the teaching of the Word – where one is left glorifying God not the teacher – and this building up is a two-way street. Thankful for your podcasts and bringing God’s heart to a difficult topic!

  5. . Hi Wayne and Brad. It is not difficult to understand what you are saying. I have travelled down a similar road and there are a number of scriptures used in defence. To mark those who cause division. Avoid them Rom. 16: 17. We should all speak the same thing. Reject a fractious man Titus 3.10 Don’t bind your convictions on others. Rom.14 The list goes on. But there is a positive side. Let us go to Him outside the camp and bear the disgrace He bore. Heb.13:13. I have never regretted it for one minute, there is a freedom outside man organized systems and man-made religions.
    Some scriptures below to show some of the real problems the Lords seekers face today.
    now that after I am gone, [false teachers like] ferocious wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; even from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse and distorted things, to draw away the disciples after themselves [as their followers]. Acts 20
    11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? 1 Cort, 1:11,12.
    I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us 3 John. 9
    Paul writes. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice (Philippians 1:15-18)
    But the most surprising thing about this text is the way Paul’s celebration of gospel truth overrides his sorrow at defective motives.

  6. I enjoyed this conversation but have to say I find it very sad that the poor woman at the well is never mentioned without her person being derided and her historical circumstances being totally misunderstood..Why is she referred to as an immoral woman?

    Divorce was very common in her day and one of the principle reason for a woman to be divorced was barrenness. In fact I have heard that the husbands were required to divorce their wives if no children were produced within 10yrs.

    It was also very common in her day for Jewish husbands to have concubines. These relationships had, I understand, the boundaries of marriage and therefore differed from prostitution, but no marriage ceremony was entered into as was the requirement with regards to a marriage.

    It is highly probably that this particular woman had been divorced the number of times she had purely because she was unable to have children. In the end, she most likely entered into a relationship as a concumbine as the best option she had left. The fact that Jesus mentioned the one she had now was not her husband, suggests that she was a concubine ie in a recognised relationship but having no husband. This type of relationship was socially acceptable in those times. Concubines in Israel possessed many of the same rights as legitimate wives, but without the same respect.

    God is looking for those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. He’s looking for those who will walk and talk with Him in all aspects of their daily living. Those who seek to know His will above all other considerations. I once heard it said that true worship is to include the Lord (allow Him in reign) in all aspects of our daily living. I love the fact that God looks on the heart, hence despite his human failings He was able to say of David that he was a man after His own heart. This gives me such hope. We are all works in progress. How I long for the Lord to gain all aspects and corners of my heart. Sadly “cultural” christians captured by manmade systems, opinions and expectations have no way of understanding such a desire, relationship or way of life..

  7. The narrative of the modern preacher seems to most commonly be your heart is broken and “God” has given me a word to help fix you. It goes against scripture directly. For eg. Ezekiel 36:26 and Romans 12:2. Maybe when it’s realized our head has to catch up to our new heart “preachers” or any other kind of fixer might be able to glorify God’s work instead of their own.

    • Sorry for the anger in my comment. I was wrong. I had been journaling about this and I let my feelings get a little away from me. Please don’t hold this against me.

      • Hi Jared. This is Wayne. Wouldn’t dream of it, Jared. Sometimes venting that anger is a good thing. To be honest, I didn’t read your comment as an angry one. Would that preachers pointed to Jesus more than they do themselves, for all kinds of reasons.

  8. I think Paul W has had a handle on this for quite some time now. Frank V as well. They both love the true body.
    Paul has an online sermon. It can be found on SM as “10 Indictments Against the Modern Day Church”, wherein the pastors “get it” big time.
    A lot of eloquence, understanding, and insight in the blog here. Personally, I was asked “to leave” the IC in ’91 for the reason of “asking too many questions”. I can say with total veracity, Jesus met me in a most tangible way when I walked some near 30 years ago. It has not been an easy journey but well worth the decision.

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