— Timely Topics
Sometimes (many times) God, in His sovereignty, exalts someone into a place of ministry who would not be our choice, and who is not to our liking. He knows what He is doing. We must be careful not to despise, resist, or reject God’s choice, lest we be found to be fighting Him and His plan. God often picks the most unlikely candidates to be His most effective ministers. It is one of the ways He brings greater glory to Himself.
For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.
— I Corinthians 1:26-29
This has always been God’s mode of operation, and, like it or not, it always will be. For those with a religious, Pharisaical mindset, there won’t be much comfort in the knowledge that God chooses the unlovely and ungainly among us. However, most of us probably feel in one way or another that we fit into the inadequate, less-than-qualified category. The burning question in our hearts is, “Is it actually possible for God to choose me for great things, and if so, how do I get to the place where He will?”
What do people who are God’s choice have going for them, that makes God sit up and notice them? Sometimes nothing at all. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29). God sometimes does the choosing based on no merit of their own, and then works in their lives to bring them to a place of maturity for ministry. In fact, if we could see from God’s point of view, this is probably how He chooses to place His hand on all of us!
But there is also another side to this question. Is it possible to position ourselves so that God will choose us for great things in His Kingdom? How do we do it? How do we get His eye on us?
God chooses obedient, faithful people for places of great responsibility. They may appear to be eccentric or downright strange on the outside (Elijah and John the Baptist were not “normal” people), but at their core, God sees something He can trust. He knows they are sold out for Him and Him alone.
God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Any one of us can be God’s choice. He has more positions of greatness to pass out than He has people who are willing and able to fill them. The following steps will help any of us meet God’s criteria and be His candidate for favor:
1.) Immerse yourself in the Word of God. — There is a pattern among God’s great heroes of the past of much time spent reading the Bible. Many of them read nothing else. Ask God to speak to you in His Word. Come to the Word with an expectancy that God is going to give you new revelation from it every time you read. Ponder what you have read and let it fill your mind and spirit. God’s Word will purify and renew your thought processes. Jesus said, “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
2.) Get the heart of God. — This can only be done by spending much time in His Presence through prayer, asking Him questions and listening for His answer, and again, through immersing yourself in His Word. The man or woman who pursues God will soon find that God is now pursuing him!
3.) Submit (make yourself accountable) to local pastoral leadership. — You cannot come into being God’s man or woman for the hour if you are not connected with the local Church. If you are not already plugged into a Bible-believing church, where the Presence of God is very real and satisfying, you need to find one. Ask God to lead you to the fellowship where He wants you to be. Once you are there, be faithful in your attendance. Establish relationship with your pastor. Let him know you want to be discipled and accountable. He may mentor you himself, or he may find a mature Christian in the church to do it for him. Accept whomever he gives you to be your mentor.
4.) Be a faithful servant in the smallest things. — Jesus said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. … And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:10, 12). Do you want to preach? teach? have a prayer and healing ministry? Ask the pastor how you can serve. He may want you to clean the restrooms, work in the nursery, or help with the yardwork. When you see a need, meet it. This might mean picking up the scrap of paper that someone else left behind, so that the sanctuary looks neat. No act of servanthood is too small to be beneath God’s notice. As you are faithful to serve in small ways, God will see to it that you get to serve in larger ways as well.
5.) Be an abandoned giver. — If God doesn’t own your money, He doesn’t own you. How you use your wallet is an accurate gauge of how well God can use you in all of life. We are coming into a time in history when the tithe is not going to be the end-all of what God expects of His people anymore. He wants it all at His disposal.
Being an abandoned giver goes far beyond money. We have to get the money issue settled first, but we also must learn to give of our time. We must learn to give our love lavishly to others, without expecting favors from them in return. We have been bought at a very heavy price, and we do not belong to ourselves anymore (I Corinthians 6:19, 20). Jesus gave it all for us. He did it, knowing full well that not everyone would appreciate His gift.
6.) Don’t worry about what someone else has in Christ. — Peter got himself into trouble by having his eye on John’s relationship and position with Jesus. He was envious of John. Then Peter, turning about, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved [John] following…. Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “Lord, and what shall this man do?” Jesus said unto him, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? Follow me” (John 21:20-22). Jesus had great ministry plans for both Peter and John. They functioned differently, but each was vital to the Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus loved them both.
We get into an awful lot of trouble spiritually when we covet someone else’s place of ministry. God will give you what’s rightfully yours, when He’s got you ready. You don’t need to strive with someone else, either inside of yourself or right out where everyone can see what you are doing. God has appropriate, satisfying things for you, if you will just wait for Him.
7.) Do not desire visibility. — The funny part about visible ministry is that God doesn’t give it to those who want it. He gives it to those who initially would like to run from it. He gives it to those who prefer to serve Jesus quietly, without fanfare. If you want visibility, you are looking for the approval of men, rather than the approval of God. God can’t have that. He needs people who are focused on His agenda, not their own. Read what Jesus had to say about “tooting your own horn” in Matthew 6:1-18.
8.) Believe God for what He says. — There is no shortcut to being God’s choice. It is going to take time for Him to mold you into the maturity you will need to handle a place of responsibility and authority. In the meantime, God will be watching to see if you patiently hang onto the promises and dreams He has given you. He wants to see if you will believe Him with all your heart, no matter how much time goes by. He wants to see if you will cherish His word to you. Abraham waited twenty-five years for his promised son Isaac to appear, and Hebrews 6:15 says of him, And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
When you begin to notice God moving you into new places of responsibility, keep in mind that the road will not be easy. Whenever God puts a plan in place, there will be opposition, because the devil doesn’t like God’s plans. The enemy often uses people as his agents to oppose the work of God. Just because you have determined not to be envious and competitive does not mean other people are going to treat you likewise! It’s not easy to stay sweet when we experience criticism, especially from brothers and sisters in Christ. If we keep our focus on Jesus, and look for Him to set the record straight in time, we’ll be able to handle the lack of love from those who don’t want us to have the place God has given us.
Peter sums up how we should behave if we are to be God’s choice: … all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you (I Peter 5:5-7).
© 2006 by Lee Ann Rubsam. All rights reserved.