1 Corinthians 9:16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
I think anyone with a genuine calling from God probably feels this way. A very high percentage have been tempted to quit, sometimes strongly, but there is certainly no peace in quitting. The particular form ministry takes can and often does change over time, but the calling itself is a lifetime appointment. Sadly, there are some in positions of ministry who are there for other reasons, generally either financial gain or personal power. Jesus called such people “hirelings.” (John 10:12-13) This section as a whole is about ministers being paid for their ministry, but that payment must not be the motivation for the ministry or it will poison the whole thing. We are all aware of people who demand high speaking fees as “evangelists” or “prophets.” They have profaned the name of the Lord they claim to serve. Akira Takimoto, who was called to his reward recently at the age of 86, was a shining example of how it should be done. He was an evangelist who also happened to pastor a church, but as soon as the church was large enough to support such a ministry, he was traveling all over the country, speaking anywhere that would have him. He founded an evangelistic organization with several other speakers as well, but they never made any demands on the churches that hosted them, choosing to accept whatever God would provide. He spoke multiple times here, and we were never lavish. The organization did (and does, with other speakers even now) let churches know what their expenses were, but that was as an encouragement and not as a demand. If everyone in public ministry had that attitude the Church as a whole would have a much better reputation!
The Lord has blessed me with the occupation of teaching English, along with translation and interpreting, to supply the funds to be able to minister. Other than extremely sporadic gifts, (one every few years or so) we have never had financial support other than our own work. For a while that contributed to my taking the church work lightly, but the Lord straightened me out on that point. I have always been quick to preach, (Conversations can turn into sermons!) but I have had real resistance to being a pastor as such, and the personal ministry that entails. I have said many times that I can’t help being a pastor, but the particular Japanese expression implies a desire to quit, and has been offensive to some people, so I’ve stopped using it, however accurate it was! This verse is a better way of putting it. I have always considered it a privilege to proclaim God’s Word, and I have finally come around to understanding that pastoral ministry is too, because everyone needs someone to be “Jesus with skin on” to them. The better I function in that role the more I am aware of His presence with me, and that is blessing indeed.
Father, thank You for the incredible honor and privilege of Your calling. Thank You for helping me understand how utterly unworthy of it I am in myself, that it is entirely by Your grace. Help me discharge faithfully all that You have assigned to me, so that many may be drawn to You through what You do in and through me, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!