By Jerry Jackson
Many times Pastors will lament from the pulpit the lack of young men surrendering to the call of full-time ministry. It truly does seem like we are seeing less young men give themselves totally to the call of God, and many who do “surrender” to the call of God have too many stipulations to be fully used of God (full-time salary, housing provided, a great benefits package, etc.).
I believe that we have many young men surrendering to the call of God for all the wrong reasons, but, thankfully, not all young men fall into this category. Some young men watch their Pastors stand each church service and proclaim the Word of God, and think to themselves, “I want to be like that: I want to be able to stand in front of people and tell them what to do!” Of course, the man of God realizes that he is NOT telling people what to do when he preaches; he is simply relating the message of God with all the fervour and compassion that God has instilled in his heart. Still, young men often do not discern this reality and see the Pastor as the man “in charge” of everyone who walks in the church doors.
When we focus on the character of those young men to whom God is extending a call into His service, there is one word that should rise to the top of the list: faithfulness.
The Biblical illustration of this is seen in the lives of Saul and Barnabas. They were faithfully serving the Lord in the church at Antioch before God called them to leave home and venture out into the “regions beyond.”
Yet, we have come to a time where faithfulness is almost an afterthought. Some Pastors are so thrilled to have someone talk about surrendering to enter the ministry that they do not care what is the character of that young man. Other Pastors have the opinion that the Lord will teach faithfulness at some future point. Neither of these thought patterns has been a help to the work of the Lord! On the one hand, the pride and prestige of the Pastor are built up, while on the other hand, young men are put into the work of the Lord who have yet to learn how to serve the Lord in the easy times and the difficult times.
Recently, a young man decided that he wanted to be a missionary. Apparently, he made this decision while at winter camp. He spoke at length to the camp speaker about this decision. When he got home, he made no mention of this decision to his Pastor, but he did circulate the idea of his decision to a few people in the church. This behaviour was manipulative, trying to use the back door to get recognition for his decision.
This same young man did nothing to begin to prepare himself for a life of service as a missionary. The church of which he was a member had an active Bible Institute, where he could have received an adequate Bible training, yet he declined to take advantage of this opportunity. He had grown up in a preacher's home and felt that he already knew all there is to learn from the Scripture. This prideful attitude would not serve him well if he actually entered into the ministry.
Also, this young man had been given one task in the church, yet had failed to follow through with that task. He had asked the Pastor for a job in the church when he first joined the church, and the Pastor had assigned him the task of passing out visitor cards to every first-time visitor. This is not a difficult task, yet he balked at fulfilling this task. There were times when a visitor would enter the church, and he would flatly refuse to take a visitor card to that visitor.
This lack of faithfulness (a refusal to communicate with his Pastor, a failure to be teachable, and a failure to fulfill even the smallest task assigned to him) calls into question the supposed call of God on this young man's life.
A missionary must learn to communicate with his Pastor. This is one of the manners by which he is accountable to his sending church. If a church member cannot communicate with his Pastor when they are together in the same place, he will never learn to do so when far away on a foreign field.
Beyond the Pastor of his sending church, a missionary must also communicate with his supporting churches. These churches may number anywhere from 10-100, yet each church deserves to hear about the work that God is doing on the missionary’s field of service. If a missionary won’t communicate with his own Pastor, it is unlikely that he will communicate with any other church, unless he has an ulterior motive.
A missionary must always be teachable. No believer in Christ has “arrived” when it comes to the Scripture and every believer must continue to search the Scripture and grow in the Lord. Beyond this general truth, a missionary must always be teachable, as he learns how to deal with people of a different culture and language. That aspect of missionary life is an aspect of constant learning.
A missionary must be faithful in fulfilling the smallest of tasks. When initially planting a church, the missionary is responsible for every aspect of setting up for services and tearing down afterward, as well as passing out every visitor card. He must take responsibility for the finances of the mission work, and plan every detail of any activities. He must also be faithful to evangelize the lost in his area of service.
It is true that we need more young men to answer God's call into the ministry. It is also true that we need more young men to learn to be faithful in their church before they begin to claim that God is calling them into further areas of service.
It is imperative for Pastors to look for faithfulness among the young men of their church, and if that faithfulness is missing, the claimed call of those young men should be suspect. It is also imperative for Pastors to promote faithfulness among all their members, for that is the plan of God for His churches.