Four easy ways to determine if you are prepared for ministry
A young couple plans to have a baby. They save money and clear an extra room. They buy a crib, a rocker, diapers, baby bottles, and anything else a baby might need. Now I ask you, those of you that have a child, is this couple truly “prepared” for what they are about to receive? I hear the roar of your laughter. The old saying goes that if you wait until you are fully prepared for a child then you will never have one. After the birth of their child, many parents find themselves feeling inadequate and unprepared, determining that they are failures and unfit to be parents, even though they may have all the baby accessories.
Much like parenting, you may feel as though you are unfit for ministry. Before moving on, let me define “ministry.” I am not referring to the work conducted by pastors and church leaders exclusively. I am referring to that responsibility which Jesus has placed upon each believer.
Admittedly, there are spiritual matters that might hinder proper ministry, such as infidelity and addictions. But there is also the concern that a minister is to have biblical knowledge and a grasp of the disciplines before he or she begins to interact in a spiritual leadership role.
A blatantly sin-filled lifestyle can and does deem a believer unfit for ministry. That being said, it is clear in the Word that God uses sinners. What other option does He have since we are all sinners in his eyes (cf. Rom. 3:23)? Consider Paul’s declaration of his own sinfulness in 1 Timothy 1:15 and his wrestle with it in Romans 7:20. There is a clear difference between a believer that is controlled and entangled by the desires of sin (cf. Jam. 1:15) and the one that, although failing at times, seeks to see his or her flesh remain crucified with Christ. All people sin. But a Christian is consistently made guilty and repentant of his or her sin, whereas an unbeliever is dead in their trespasses and sins (cf. Eph. 2:1-10). I believe the distinction here is more obvious than people tend to make it.
With that in mind, when is a person spiritually prepared for ministry? The easy answer is that it is between you and God. However, I would like to suggest four evaluations to help determine if you are in a position for ministry.
#1 Do you belong to the King, entirely?
It is God’s Kingdom, and as a believer, you are his child. But have you fully acknowledged your position? Do you know what it means to be crucified with Christ and how to allow Christ to live within you (cf. Gal. 2:20)? Have you chosen to work out your salvation by surrendering all to Him who wills and works through you (cf. Phil. 2:12-13)?
#2 Do you belong to a church & actively participate in its growth?
The Church is Christ’s bride for whom Christ died. The church is His ministry on earth. As stated earlier, the Church is the tool used by God to equip you for ministry (cf. Eph. 4:12). The Church is God’s plan A and there is no plan B. If you are not part of a church, how can you claim to be passionate about the things of God?
#3 Are you being discipled/discipling others?
Each of the four Gospels makes it amply clear that Jesus commands us to make disciples of all nations. Since it is the God-ordained mission of the Church, if discipleship is not your desire then you may find yourself unfit for ministry.
#4 Do you desire His affection? Is it a burden for you?
I did not ask if you desire His acceptance. Romans 8 makes it clear that we are already accepted. Do you desire the deep presence of His affection? Do you desire, like a son or daughter, to make your Father proud? Is His joy the desire of your heart?
Upon their return from exile, the children of Israel were deeply grieved after hearing the Word of the Lord and their failure to handle the responsibility that God had given them. The Levites told them: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (cf. Neh. 8:10). It is the presence of His joy that gives us the strength to persevere when we don’t feel qualified. His joy in us proves us fit and our participation in ministry honoring to Him.
Perhaps the best test for ministry fitness is not related to your sinlessness or your biblical knowledge and grasp of spiritual disciplines. Although those are priceless to the believer, you can always be more knowledgeable and disciplined. Perhaps the best evaluative method is the “David” test. David was a shepherd boy given a kingdom by God that was taken away from a seemingly perfect man chosen by the people. How prepared could David have been?! The test is simple: (cf. 1 Sam. 13:13-14) Are you a man or woman after God’s own heart? The joy of God’s heart is your strength to complete the ministry that He gives you, and it is the evidence that you are the man or woman fit to complete the work Christ has given you.