Matt Chandler, a pastor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, once imitated Mark Driscoll, another pastor, to illustrate Paul’s charge to Timothy to “fulfill your ministry” in 2 Timothy 4:5. In the video, Chandler shows that simply copying a popular pastor’s style of teaching will not make one’s preaching powerful. Instead, each one must do as the verse says and fulfill his own ministry, carrying out the work God assigned him to do. Though short, the video stuck with me, reminding me to fulfill the ministry to which God has called me and to avoid unwise comparison and copying in the work.
Last week, I shared how insecurity often affects me, highlighting Paul’s words on God’s gifting of individuals for service within the church as the proper response to feelings of insecurity. The fact that God gifts believers for service within the kingdom helps to relieve the anxiety that often comes with insecurity. But this truth does something else: it gives purpose.
If God has truly gifted you (and, biblically, I believe he has), then he has a purpose for you, a proper place to use your gifts for his glory. This means that your greatest goal in life is not simply to make money, to make a name for yourself, to be successful in a career, to marry, to have children, or to be known by men. Above all else, your goal is to glorify God, to know him and to make him known, to be molded into the image of Christ. Your highest pursuit is the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Of course, the pursuit of the kingdom and righteousness may entail the things I just listed, but those things are not your end goal. You live and work as to the Lord, pursuing the glory of God, the good of the church, the salvation of the lost, and your own sanctification.
This truth does not apply only to those called to formal ministry; the gifting of God for service applies to all who know him, be they preachers or athletes or musicians or secretaries or photographers or farmers or counselors or artists or teachers or cooks or dancers or plumbers or landscapers or engineers or film-makers or philosophers or architects or carpenters or editors or web designers or any other expression of gifting. Though some talents and gifts are seen and praised while others are often ignored or taken for granted, God is the giver behind them all. He is the designer of your being, intimately acquainted with you from before your conception up to this very moment and onward into eternity (Psalm 139:13-17). You are no accident, no blind spot in his sovereign rule: you are known and loved. And he calls you and equips you to act in his grand story.
At times, we may feel inadequate for the task. We may feel unqualified for his service and undeserving of his concern. We may feel unprepared for what is ahead. To some extent, each of these are normal, proper responses. To this we must remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
God calls us to serve, and he empowers us for that service. We must indeed work, but we can rest in the truth that it is he who works in and through us according to his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). He created us to work, but he has not left us alone in the task.
So pray about what God has gifted you to do, trust in his equipping power, and get to work. Don’t waste your life on anything less than the purpose for which you were created. And praise God for choosing to use you for his glory and for the good of others.