Is the Brightness Still in Me
“The light of God within, forever, grace given to every sinner broken who dares to call God strong. Holy Spirit speak when my light grows weak, make me shine like Jesus, fill me with His song. Still I gotta wonder is the brightness still in me? Can I hold my own and sing a simple song? Well, I gotta wonder is the brightness still in me as it was when I was young and first believed?”
Those words by Charlie Peacock from his song “Is the Brightness Still in Me?” on the album Kingdom Come have been resonating in me a lot lately. I work full time and travel a lot for work. I am going to seminary. I am involved in ministries inside and outside my church. And I am a divorced dad with two kids. During all this, I am trying to maintain a healthy life balance that is required for me to build relationships.
I have a lot going on. And from time to time, I totally forget that God should be first and foremost in my life.
The past week I have been quietly questioning all of my own passions. I was work on Sunday afternoon, teaching a class about coffee to a group of team members who were passionate to learn. The entire class I couldn’t help but think how much I wanted one of these trainees to step up and take my job away from me. I am tired of the coffee industry. What used to give me excitement and joy has turned into a chore.
I went home that night and looked at my seminary homework. Yep, that’s right. I looked at it. I didn’t do any of it. I simply looked at it. I had no desire to answer questions about Hebrews 10:1-2 in how the law is merely a shadow of the good things to come.
Then I started to think more. Am I cut out for the ministry? Am I simply doing my seminary work because I feel it is time to change jobs?
I was talking to one of my pastors on Sunday morning and asked him what advice he would give to someone who is about to graduate seminary. He gave me one short sentence before being called away to handle something in the church, but that one sentence has stuck with me since he said it. He said, “Fred, just make sure you are doing it because you have been called and not simply because you want a new job.”
I have been praying hard about this since Sunday. I truly believe I have been called, but, wait….what does it mean to be called? Let’s look at 5 points that show calling to ministry in the Bible.
First, do you have a strong, unending passion to serve Christ to the point that you would rather get fired than withhold the Gospel of Christ? Look at Philippians 3:7-9. That Scripture shows Paul’s passion for the ministry and that he would do anything to pursue it. Charles Spurgeon can be loosely translated in saying that if there is anything else you can do then do it, but if the ministry is the only path that will satisfy you, then pursue it with a passion.
Second, what does your personal integrity look like? There should be nothing in the future minister’s life that would bring shame to the glory of Christ if it were to be discovered. We ARE still human and prone to sin, but if we were to read the Pastoral Epistles, is there any secret addiction or issue that you may be in denial about? For me, my big issue that comes up over and over in my mind is my divorce. Admittedly I was not the perfect husband, and I wonder if there is anything that I had done that could bring shame to the name of Christ. But again, to quote Spurgeon “the Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.”
Third, are you being encouraged by others? Biblically, there are multiple examples of others being encouraged to minister. Paul, for example, told others in his letters that they should seek our Priscilla and Aquilla because of their strong teaching. Over the years, I remember a lot of people telling me that I should be a pastor, including my own mom, multiple pastors since I was 17, and even close friends.
Fourth, is God opening doors for you? Opportunity is one thing, but opportunity with means is another. I remember when I wanted to go to Nigeria to minister a few years ago. I had no clue how I was going to get approval for the time off work but also how I was going to afford the trip. I prayed over and over and over and over again. As the time got closer, I realized that God had sent me the money to go and to support some indigenous missionaries there as well. The same happened when I wanted to go on a missionary trip to Peru this past summer. Up until 3 weeks before the trip, I still did not have the money needed. But God provided.
Finally, is your spouse on board with you going into the ministry. When I was married, I remember clearly my now ex-wife saying to me, “I will never be the wife of a pastor.” At the time, I took that did not go into seminary. I intentionally held off or only took a teaser class here or there, but not hard core into the seminary until she divorced me. The woman I am dating now is amazing in that she is excited about the opportunity to serve next to me if the time comes. God is blessing me in that way.
So am I called? I believe so. And I don’t say that with any hint of doubt. I really do believe that I am called into the ministry full time. I am excited to see what could come of God’s blessing of my future ministry, whether that be to preach and teach (my spiritual gifts) or simply to run the coffee bar at church. In any way, I want God to be first and foremost and me to be last so that when people come to Christ, only He gets all the glory and honor.