This is a question most students have, am I cut for full-time gospel ministry? And its difficult to answer such questions because the decision to do ministry is never easy, let alone full time ministry. There are lots of questions, uncertainties, denials and a lot of things to consider as one makes such a decision. The obvious and immediate fears are whether you are going to get enough financial support to take care of your family and whether your friends or family members will stand with you. But the greatest fear, at least for me, was whether I was called for full-time ministry or not. Like most people, I grew up in a culture where to be in full-time ministry you needed to experience some kind of dramatic event which would serve as a confirmation from God that you were cut for full-time ministry. And myself not having experienced any dramatic event like hearing an audible voice or seing incredible visions, I struggled to picture myself in full-time ministry. But what happened, that made me join full-time ministry? So in this article I will share my experience hoping to help anyone who is struggling with such a question.
How it all started
It is now 7 years ever since I got involved in the Gospel ministry. The first two I was just helping out at my local church doing various services. For me that was okay because I had a good paying job aside. After sometime serving in the church, my pastor asked me to consider doing a ministry apprenticeship training under his mentorship. This request caught me unprepared and made me wonder why the Pastor would ask me to do such a thing. I enjoyed serving God but I was okay with how I was serving him: helping out in the church whilst working was ideal. The Pastor’s request was for me to consider doing Ministry Apprenticeship full-time as a way to get me thinking about full-time ministry. This was a non-starter for me at the beginning.I thought I was very young to consider such, I wanted to pursue other careers and help my father at home to look after the family. All was in place for me to do software engineering, so I wanted to pursue my career while serving God the way I had always served him.
But after a series of discussions and prayers with my Pastor, I decided to start ministry apprenticeship training (fulltime). I did this but not because I had all the answers but I decided to give it a go and trust God. This marked the advent of a two year journey of training with God himself. This decision was not popular within my family, my mother didn’t like it and this strained my relationship with her. Only my father understood what I was doing and he stood with me during my apprenticeship.
Becoming full-time in ministry
The two years of ministry apprenticeship were very instrumental in my decision to join full time ministry. I went into the apprenticeship with lots of questions and for me I was hoping to fail the process to prove to my Pastor that I wasn’t cut for ministry. But unfortunately things went the other way, the intentional discipleship and exposure to practical ministry opened my eyes to see ministry differently. I came to understand that you don’t need to have a dramatic supernatural encounter to be in full-time ministry. I realised what God had done for me as an individual on the cross and it made me understand deeper what He is busy doing in the world. He is saving people, those who call on His name. But the billion dollar question that changed my mind was that of Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? For me that was revolutionary, I saw my ability to understand the gospel as the ultimate evidence that I needed to share it with those who do not know or understand the gospel. I didn’t need any special calling. Just like Paul took Timothy to walk him through ministry training and practically equipping him for the work that was ahead of him, I felt that it was the exact thing God, through my Pastor, had used to call me into full-time gospel ministry.
In full-time ministry
Full-time ministry has its challenges, and there is no amount of conviction or faith that can take the challenges away from ministry. So far I have realised you can’t pray them away but I have been greatly encouraged in that you can pray for God to sustain you through the struggles. And faith and conviction makes you joyful through the challenges because they give you the right perspective of God and his purposes in life. Full-time ministry has made me realise what Jesus meant when he told the disciples as they went out to preach the Gospel, they will be like sheep amongst the wolves (Luke 10:3). I have found comfort in the assurance that God will take care of his work, and am just a vessel at his service.
Is full -time gospel ministry for everyone?
I would say YES, gospel ministry is a full-time responsibility for every Christian. Matthew 28:18-20 contains a universal mandate to gospel disciples of every nation who in turn make other gospel disciples. However, what may differ is how we execute the mandate. Matthew 28 should not be understood as a mandate for all to become Pastors but its a mandate to all Christians to be in full-time gospel ministry. This means full-time in gospel ministry is not gospel work. So all of us won’t be Pastors or work in the church full-time but we can freely go and become Accountants or Doctors or Engineers. Being full-time in gospel ministry means that at the heart of whatever we are doing is the mandate to make gospel disciples. So one can be a full-time Engineer but practise his/her engineering in a way that seeks to reach out with the gospel of Christ. We are not called to be slaves to our professions rather we are called to be slaves to the gospel and this means that whatever profession we might find ourselves in, is a God given opportunity for gospel ministry.We are all called to full-time gospel ministry but the way we execute the calling is what differs. Some will be full-time paid gospel workers e.g Pastors, while others will be paid Engineers with a full-time gospel mandate.
It’s my hope and prayer that as you pursue various career paths as students, you will do so with an understanding that wherever you find yourself the gospel mandate is your priority. And beyond that I hope that also some among the students would consider to join full-time paid gospel work, all for His glory. If you are not sure what you should do I recommend strongly that you consider at least a year for doing Ministry Apprenticeship.