But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Eph 4v7)
Jesus has given every one of his people grace-gifts. It is only as each member exercises their gifts in love that the whole body is built up and becomes an effective instrument for bringing God’s salvation to the world (Eph 4v16).
While no gifts are superior and there are no grounds for boasting, it is clear that the ‘Word’ (teaching) gifts are foundational. These prepare the rest of the church to fulfil their role in the body and in the world. It is this gift of teaching God’s Word then that a gospel minister requires in some measure. But how do you know if you have this gift?
As with all God-given gifts, the only way to know is by trying! It is as you begin doing, that you soon discover whether you are able and whether others are built up through what you are doing. Below are a couple biblical questions to ask:
- Do I enjoy teaching God’s Word to others? God often gives, together with our gifts, a desire for exercising them (1 Tim 3v1).
- Do others recognize my ability to understand and explain God’s Word? God has given his Spirit to his people. In an individualistic culture we need to be willing to submit to the testing and judgement of mature and spiritual leaders that God has raised up and of the church more widely. If the church leaders and congregation members have doubts over your suitability for ministry then pay careful attention. Do the same if they are strongly encouraging you into ministry.
- Am I growing in gospel character? In Paul’s list of requirements for a church leader, almost all have to do with personal godliness (1 Tim 3v1-7). This doesn’t mean being perfect, but that you’re showing progress (1 Tim 4v15). It means that there’s nothing in your life, were it to become public, that would bring Jesus’ name into disrepute (1 Tim 3v7).
- Am I able to lead? Those who would lead God’s church must have some ability to set a vision and take others along with them. If you want to know whether you’re a leader, look behind you.
The Bible makes us aware that we have a powerful spiritual adversary who is constantly attempting to undermine God’s work in the world. He works through both our own desires and through the world and its values. We may be dissuaded from an apprenticeship because:
- Our own desire for money and status in society cause us to never take a step off the ‘upward path’ of career in order to think about where we might best serve Jesus Christ.
- We may have genuine financial commitments (student loans etc.) which need to be met. Money, however, is not our ultimate security and there are creative ways with dealing with such barriers.
- Our parents or family, both Christian and non-Christian, may be opposed to the idea as it doesn’t fit with their hopes of what we might be. While we must honour our parents (Eph 6v1), Jesus did also make it clear that our first allegiance is to him (Matt 10v37)