Thursday, September 07, 2006

Every Man A Minister?

Let's project this concept to other vocations. Every man a(n):

  • Singer - Have you seen the American Idol auditions?
  • Musician - Seen anyone who can play by sight, but not by ear. Or know theory, but can't improvise? Or are just plain tone deaf or have no rhythm?
  • Accountant - Know anyone who you never want to touch a checkbook?
  • Athlete - Many AAA baseball players won't make it to the Major Leagues, and they are much, much more talented than I am. How many people can golf like Tiger, or play tennis like Agassi (in his prime) or Federer?
  • Gardener - Best way to kill a plant? Have me take care of it.
  • Mechanic - My best friend is the service station down the street. Mrs. Quipper is very happy about that.
  • Handyman - I'm handy with the yellow pages, phone and checkbook. That's good enough around here.
  • Project Manager - Do you know people that forget to take their brain when they walk out the door for work? "Planning" means being excited that you will remember to eat at lunch time?
  • Spouse - I think divorce stats, and failures on second and third marriages, tell us all we need to know here.
  • Politician - Sorry, I'm not that spineless.
  • Child bearer - Nope, I don't think so!
See the point? God gave us talents and sweet skills (a little Napolean Dynamite lingo there). He didn't give everyone the same skills - spiritual or physical. To paraphrase some of 1Cor:12, I am grateful we are all not "eyes" or "feet" or "hands". I am grateful that the farmer tills his soil and raises his crops, that those crops are purchased, prepared, and delivered to the stores, where Mrs. Quipper can purchase them with funds allotted from my paycheck because people are responsible and law-abiding enough to buy car insurance, and the payroll and HR personnel make sure those funds get to my check.

I am a much more capable witness when I work within my areas of expertise, answer questions about my faith, and direct folks to my called and ordained Pastors instead of trying to be the minister.


Kayla said...

Excellent point, Quipper!

I'm right there with you on being the worst person to take care of a plant..
Black thumb? Heck, it's necrotic

Quipper said...


Thanks for stopping by. I've been good at killing plants - including cacti - since I've been 6 years old.

Des_Moines_Girl said...

Very good point.

Here's some good advice - Find things you are not good at and then spend the rest of your life avoiding them.

Jonathan said...

Do you want more affirmations or do you want some counterpoints? :-)

BTW, I haven't forgotten your other comments on the ONGOING SAGA for what I thought would be a simple, feel-good blog entry (i.e. my "CREED" blog entry)... ;-)

Quipper said...

J - I figured this one would be too juicy for you to pass up. (That's not the reason for the post, though. You can attribute that to some local, off-their-rocker "Lutheran" pastors.)

Go ahead, add your comments, and be ready for the fun to begin. :-)

Jonathan said...

I do not know where to begin.

I actually debated with myself on the way in to work today.

You make too much of a generalization using natural analogies which make sense in some way, but not to justify your spiritual “calling” point. Or at least that's the way I take it.

Additionally, I could probably debate either "side" and I personally would have chosen different arguments / reasons for your position - How about the "body of Christ" position with each part contributing in different ways or "the gifts of the Spirit" position with the Holy Spirit giving different gifts to each as He wills.

However, my concern is that the “natural” examples of vocation or natural selection are being applied to a spiritual aspect and the analogies do not fit so nice.

What about on-the-job or hands-on training (this could apply to “church” work or “secular” vocation). Were you born as a project manager? Did an auto mechanic know his or her trade from his childhood or was training involved? Of course guys can’t have babies – that’s a non-adjustable design feature.

I think of the disciples who were called that were tax collectors, fishermen, etc. They were “unlearned” men as described I think in Acts when Peter gave his wonderful sermon after being filled by God’s Spirit. Beforehand, he was Peter-foot-in-mouth.

Did you ever hear of the saying “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”?

So many examples of weak men asked by God to do extraordinary things - Moses, Paul, Jeremiah, Gideon…In Christ, in the new covenant, we are all priests and kings, Christ’s ambassadors. Yes, I do agree that it means different things for different people. But in one way or another, we are all charged with ministering and spreading the gospel. In fact, I like your last paragraph.

We are all called to minister in different ways – your “church” Pastor minister has a specific job as do all the elders, deacons, trustees and “lay people”. What, we can’t visit someone who is sick, we can’t teach what we have learned from scripture, when a neighbor asks about faith or needs to pray with someone, do we put him off and refer him or her to our pastor. Doesn’t this diminish God’s power to work through us, if we are willing?

Yes, I do agree that deep theological questions need to sometimes be referred to someone who actually studied scriptures and original languages, etc. in a deeper fashion. But shouldn’t we eventually work towards that with at least as much energy as we apply to TV shows, movies, baseball stats, etc.

I think of Paul’s charge to “study to show thyself approved.. a workman who is not ashamed…rightly dividing the word of truth”. And, yes, I remember your comment in my blog that the Toothy verse was meant ONLY for Timothy. No way, Ricky – I could use that argument for most of the letters and books in the Bible, couldn’t I? That they were written for someone else or another people group? So unless there is letter from St. Paul specifically to me, St. Jonathan, am I then “off the hook”?

Have I over-reacted or maybe missed your point?

Quipper said...

J - you've somewhat overreacted. Yes, we are all equipped for our callings. You hit my main point - not everyone is *called* to be a Pastor, yet people have been misled - yes, misLED - to believe that "ministers" can replace the calling of the Pastor.

I hate the way the word "ministry" has been re-defined and abused in modern American Christianity. "Vocation" and "calling" well-represented what was meant. "Ministry" has been turned into an emotional word and an obligation for all "good Christians".

Your point, that we can all visit hospitals and answer basic religious questions when asked, is well taken. We are in agreement here. But, the church (the physical church) is where people should go to strengthen their faith. We are not equipped - unless we've gone to Seminary, graduated, and have practiced what we've learned - to be Pastors.

You will rarely see me use the word "ministry" unless it's poking fun at the abuse of the word.

I'll respond to your final paragraph when I have more time. :-)


Scott said...

Jonathan wrote:
However, my concern is that the “natural” examples of vocation or natural selection are being applied to a spiritual aspect and the analogies do not fit so nice.

What about on-the-job or hands-on training (this could apply to “church” work or “secular” vocation).

God is the One who made Rick a PM. He issues callings to church workers and non-church workers alike. Therefore I think the analogies fit just fine. God has Rick be a PM, so Rick is trained along the way. God has someone else be a pastor, and trained along the way.

So many examples of weak men asked by God to do extraordinary things

They were asked immediately, that is, directly by God Himself. They were used by God to make a point. "In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by His Son." God doesn't make immediate calls anymore. They are mediated. Ricks calling is mediated by his employer, and validated by the signature on the paycheck.

I think there is a lot of talking past each other due to jargon of our respective denominations.

I think when Jonathan says "everyone is called to minister" he is saying, with Paul, that we are to be ready to give an answer; using an "evamgelical" or "non-denominational" understanding of the word "minister."

When Rick talks about vocation and being a better witness by keeping within his areas of expertise, he is saying the same thing, with different words.

Of course Rick is not saying you can't visit the sick etc. He's saying do that stuff within his various stations in life: Son, Father, Friend, Citizen, Employee, etc.

As for the writings to Timothy, context is everything. There are general principles, and there are specific principles. Would you say that everyone who does not control his children is unfit to be a Christian? No. Would you exclude divorcees from Heaven? No. But those people are excluded from the Office of Holy Ministry (Presbyters, Bishops, Elders, Overseers, Pastors, whatever you call them).

Are we all to travel to a foreign land and kill all the inhabitants thereof? No? Are we "off the hook" because we're making loopholes, or is context important?

Oh, and qxoolu!!!

Scott said...

By the way, Jonathan, I think if you click on the link to the sermon for Trinity 13 podcast that Rick links to in a later entry, it applies to this discussion.

The sermon is about "Charity." Acts of charity, IMO, fit in to the wider sense of "ministering." Not just monetary charity, but all acts of charity (visitation, etc.)


And qkidvgdm!

Quipper said...

Scott - what a brilliant use of our called Pastor's training and your technical training to direct J to the podcast.

J - Scott stole my thunder re: the Timothy passages. No need for me to respond.

And Scott, qivcvxfd right back atcha!

Scott said...

Scott - what a brilliant use of our called Pastor's training and your technical training to direct J to the podcast.

Ya know, it just hit me that this is a great example of "minister" in it's widest sense, or vocation properly applied.

I "minister" to others best by looking after these kinds of technical things because that's what I do. Through my serving others in that capacity, opportunity may or may not arise for planting or watering.

Don't worry, I'm not going to call myself "Minister of New Media" or what I do the "Media Ministry," but it could be properly understood with `splainin.


Jonathan said...

Yo Q (cc: Scott),
Both of you, at one time or another, have referred to specific Podcasts from CLC - the "Charity" one and possibly one or two others, to help clarify your perspective or particular point. I'd love to listen to them, but doing it online is tough for me time-wise. I have a 30-minute commute to and from work and would love to be able to download an MP3 or other CD-recordable format for these particular pod casts. Any ideas on how I can do this or if you could help?

scott said...

Hey Jonathan.

Right click the word "Download" for the podcast you want to save, then click "Save as" (Save target as/Save Link as etc)

I believe the Charity one was Trinity 13.


Jonathan said...

Duh. I've used that 'trick' before, so I do not know why I didn't remember it...
Well, it worked - Thanks Scott.