What it is about Christian people who enter ministry- whether it be full-time or part-time bi-vocational pastors? What makes them think that they can speak for the Lord Most High? What gives them the courage to stand in front of others and say, “This is what God is speaking to us today.”?
There are many such questions that I have had over the years as I looked at myself. Who am I to speak on God’s behalf? What kind of person do I need to be to actually find the courage to be a spokesperson for God? Why would a desperately shy farm kid from the fields of Iowa in the United States think he could be a man who pointed people toward the Creator of Heaven and Earth? “Who am I that God would choose to use me?” echoes through my heart even yet today.
The People Who Speak on God’s Behalf
Let me tell you about some of us. Please understand, I am only speaking for myself and for some others whose stories I have heard and read. But I think that I can safely say that there are some common traits that would move someone to become a pastor.
- The first common characteristic of these people who come alongside others to show them the way of God are people who have heard the Lord say to them as clearly as he said to Ezekiel the prophet in Bible time (see http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel+33%3A7&version=ESV), “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel.” Those who are faithful pastors are people who have heard the Lord calling their names ad giving them a task. You are a watchman for me. You are to warn people of what will happen if they continue in their ways of ignoring Me or serving other gods who are not true. You need to show them the way home. I, says the Lord, I give you this task. The first and foremost characteristic is the conviction that God has spoken to their hearts and they must do this even if they do not want to.
- The second common characteristic is those teach at and those who come to Christian Leaders Institute to be trained for the work of revival is that they themselves have been revived in their walk with God. It may seem like a strange thing to say, but each of us here know that God has reached deep inside of our lives and given us a heart that is alive to Jesus. We were dead, but now we are alive. Our spiritual selves had been no more than a withered dry tree, but now it is alive by the power of the Creator and Redeemer so that our lives will produce fruit for God. In the Bible we find a passage that reads, And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ( see http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+2%3A1-10&version=ESV) God has made us alive in his Son Jesus. That is second to hearing his call.
- The third common characteristic is that we are people who are doing this so that the whole world may come to know God and find new life in Jesus. A man named Philip, from the country of Cameroon, who is one of our students writes this, “My hope is that through this seminary, I will acquire the knowledge that will enable me to preach the uncompromised Good News of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. This training will enable me to fulfill this calling of not just winning souls and church planting but also to build a free traditional Bible school in Africa just like CLI that will help create new leaders to expand the work of God.” The movement among the population of the world that leads people back to God is called Revival. We pray that God will use us to being revival to the millions who are still dead in their sins. That we will be used by God to speak his Word of Love in Jesus to those who need to hear the sound of God’s voice. We are people who know we are not worthy, nor are we all that articulate. But God can use our faltering words, our humble faith, and our trembling voices to miraculously reach those who God is calling from death to life.
So what is it about us who are these preachers of God’s Good News? We’re tools in the hand of a God who can make even the dead live, the sinner a saint, and the rebel into a follower of the King of Kings. That is who we are, not much in ourselves, but in Christ the workmanship of God.