"Whoever would be great among you, let him serve you, and whoever would be first among you, let him be your slave, even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many." – Jesus, Matthew 20:26-28 (MEV)
Do you desire to serve the Lord with all your heart, time and talent? If you do, perhaps you've thought about entering full-time ministry.
Serving the Lord in a full-time capacity is a great thing. You wake up in the morning giddy and thinking about pleasing God, spend the whole day in various ministry assignments, and spend some time thinking and praying about how to love God and His people before closing your eyes to sleep at night.
Yes, full-time ministry is a great thing.
However, many who enter full-time ministry do so because they only "feel" they're "called" to it. It takes more than a "feeling" to make you enter full-time ministry and stay strong at it – especially when the hardships and the self-sacrificing moments come. You have to count the cost before you commit to it.
Are you willing to face hardship even if there's no promise of a quick reward, no promise of applause, and no hint of worldly joy that would come later? If you are, then let me encourage you to decide entering full-time ministry with these things in mind:
1. It's not an excuse to be lazy
No, entering full-time ministry is NOT an excuse to be lazy. You can't say God has called you to minister if you can't even fix your bed at home. And no, you can't ask God to send angels to wash your dishes in exchange for 40 hours of church work a week.
Real full-time ministry means working full-time to doing the will of God. It means dedicating more than just eight hours a day to studying the Word, then preaching the gospel. It means denying yourself that free time so that you can pray for someone in need. It means less of you and more of Jesus (see John 3:30).
Are you willing to put your hand in the plow and not hope to be somewhere else?
2. If you don't want to serve, don't even consider it
Full-time ministry also means being willing to serve others full-time. No, it doesn't mean allowing church people (leaders or members) to enslave you and make you their "servant."
It also doesn't mean lording it over others who are entrusted to your watch.
Ministry, which comes from the Greek word "diakoneo" meaning "to serve," requires servanthood. Your primary desire is to be of service first to God and His Word, followed by serving or doing good to His people. You aren't called to be a slave to men; you are called to be a slave of Jesus Christ (see Luke 1:38; 1 Corinthians 7:22-23).
3. There's a great reward – and a great judgment – waiting at the end of it
Lastly, while responding to the call to full-time ministry has its rewards, it also brings with it a stricter judgment, particularly for those who teach and labour in the Word.
"My brothers, not many of you should become teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater judgment." (James 3:1)
Friends, I urge you to count the cost before you enter full-time ministry. You will have to forsake perhaps all your ambitions for yourself and many other pursuits. If you aren't willing to deny yourself and follow Christ, full-time ministry is not for you.
Don't be discouraged, though. You can serve God even if you're not a full-time minister. All who are in Christ are His children, and all of us can and must serve Him even in the littlest of ways.