As a minister, I frequently get questions from people. . .all kinds of questions — and all kinds of people. The obvious question “So what do you do?” is always a given. But no matter the setting, another question that frequently arises is one of an almost existential nature: “Why do you do what you do?”
I’ve found through the years that most people outside the Christian faith have very little understanding of the word vocation — as in ‘because God called me into ministry.’ I think that’s particularly the case because ministry is one of those professions that frequently employs some of the best and the brightest — people who are gifted in many ways and could, quite frankly, make more income doing something else.
Why do I do what I do? Several passages of Scripture are instructive to me in attempting an honest answer to that question.
1. I love that my heart sings when I engage in ministry.
So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?” (Ecclesiastes 3:22, NIV)
I believe that every Christ-follower should find joy in his work — regardless of what he does. There are so many things I love about being a minister: teaching people, sharing my heart, leading meetings, making visits. In ministry, there is really no such thing as a ‘set’ schedule. Life happens, and when life happens, ministers must respond. It has been said that variety is the spice of life — and I guess you could say I like my life extra spicy!
2. I am committed to Christ and believe that one person can make a difference.
But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” (1 Kings 8:61)
My original career path had me destined to be a news reporter. With my passion for writing and talking with people, I just knew such a profession would be ideal. However, I think that path would have led me to be more of an observer than a participant in this journey of life. In ministry, I have seen God take me — a very ordinary person — and use me to do extraordinary things, all in His power. All because of the power of Christ, I can be confident that He can use me to accomplish His purposes and expand His Kingdom.
3. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23)
People often ask me why I prefer to work in a church setting rather than as a counselor or college professor. The short answer is that I simply can’t fathom enjoying anything else like I do ministry. This particular verse speaks about heart and how we should put our whole heart in whatever we do. My heart is to serve the body of Christ through the local church. And for me it’s not about the money, the power, or the prestige. It’s about doing what God hand-crafted me to do.
4. I called, and God answered.
When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalm 138:3)
Most of the time we think of ministers as being called by God — and that is definitely true with me. But I fought with Him about my call for quite a while during high school and college. I was convinced that if I prayed long enough and hard enough and demonstrated a high degree of flexibility, then God would change His mind about calling me into ministry. No such luck.
One night as a junior in college, I remember distinctly crying out to God to give me direction in my life. When I called, He was faithful to answer. And just as this verse says, He also has made me ‘bold and stouthearted.’ I like that. In fact, woe is the minister who thinks he can make it in full-time Christian service without a measure of stoutheartedness! This may come as a shock, but God’s people aren’t always easy or fun to deal with. I find that He gives more grace at just the times I need it. And He also has helped me develop thicker skin through the years — also a necessity for ministers.
5. I love people. . .and I want to help them discover new life.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! . . . We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, 19-20a)
I’m reminded of the old song “God Loves People More Than Anything.” And you know what? It’s true! As a minister of the Gospel, I have so many opportunities to share His love with people. The essence of the Gospel is that God loved each one of us so much that He sent Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. And even if you had been the only one on the planet, God still would have sent His Son.
That’s how much He loves people.
I love sharing that message with people — and seeing them grow in the knowledge of Christ. I believe with all my heart that God has given me an ability to love and encourage others in ways that add meaning and value to their lives. He also helps me teach people His truths in ways they can understand and apply them to life. And all that time I’ve spent counseling people through the years has helped me be a better listener and able to readily discern needs.
So there you have it. . .my top five reasons I do what I do. It sure was tough narrowing down my list! I encourage you to take some time and write out your own list of why you do what you do. It’s a great exercise — and just might be insightful!