About a year ago, I wrote aI received from God into Compassion’s ministry as a Child Advocate. There was then and is now no room for confusion or doubt.
But at some level, I apparently thought a clear call to ministry meant that God would go before me, opening many doors and leading me to pastors and ministry leaders who would be receptive, all resulting in hundreds of child sponsorships, every year. Well, dozens, anyway.
But that has not been my experience, which has left me variously puzzled, frustrated and often discouraged. What does a clear call or direction from God, mean, then, if not that the ministry will be fruitful?
Recently, as I pondered the question again, Moses came to mind. Now there was a man with a clear and definite call: Go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let My people go!
Finally persuaded to obey, Moses set out for Egypt. On arrival, he quickly discovered that God had not prepared Pharaoh’s heart to cooperate. Ten plagues later, Pharoah agreed, only to change his mind and give chase.
Many other examples can be found, but think about just a few of the obvious examples:
- Peter boldly preached the gospel message of Jesus Christ and was repeatedly tossed into jail. His call was clear: “Feed my lambs.”
- Paul boldly made multiple missionary journeys, preaching, speaking, doing miraculous things in the name of Jesus. Several times, he was thrown into prison; once he had to be let down over a wall in a basket at night to escape. Could a call from God be any clearer than Saul/Paul’s?
- Jesus Himself was God incarnate, God in human form, the God/Man. Say it however you like, He was fully God and fully Man, come to earth to show us how to live and to reconcile us to the Father. For three years, He poured Himself into 12 men whom he had hand-picked to be His disciples, and He still lost one of them. Then, accused, put on “trial” by Jewish leaders, taken before Pontius Pilate and tortured, He was crucified.
Obviously, the clearest of God-initiated calls to ministry of any kind do not mean everything is going to go without a hitch. So what does it mean?
I can’t claim to have the ultimate answer, but here’s where I am.
Any member of Compassion’s Advocates Network will tell you that getting invited to share Compassion’s ministry with many churches requires a real passion for finding sponsors and sharing all that Compassion’s ministry accomplishes. It also requires patience, persistence, and the ability to rise above what sometimes feels like personal rejection.
Obtaining an invitation from a given church, I’m told, can take three or four years of repeated contacts and relationship-building. This, I have staunchly resisted applying to myself, whether due to faulty expectations or a prideful desire to be the Wunder Advocate.
My awakening came a few months ago at a luncheon for church and ministry leaders. I had conversations with two pastors with whom I had spoken many times.
I have previously met with the home-group leaders at one of the churches and enjoy the full support of the pastors … short of doing a Compassion Sunday. The other pastor and his family are Compassion sponsors, but I have had no invitations from him.
The first of these two pastors advised me to talk to the home group leaders, again — and to expect to do so again. Repetition — the squeaky wheel.
The other pastor mentioned changes in his congregation and its focus, so I asked if those changes would mean a fit for Compassion. His answer: “Not yet, but we’re getting closer.” Ahh!
As I drove home after the luncheon, a question crossed my mind: “If I am called to be a sower of seeds, am I willing to do that?”
Hmm … well, I would really like to take part in the harvest, but … yes. I am willing to be a sower of seeds.
Wow! What a relief this is to me! I felt the pressure lift from my shoulders and from my soul.
I don’t have to worry about the results! That is not my job. I have not failed, and now I have been set free!
I can now call pastors and other church leaders without thinking every conversation should end with an invitation, because I am a sower of seeds. That is my job, and I can do it better, now, than ever before. Praise God!