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Jun 03
2013

Full-Time or Part-Time Ministry, How to Discern God’s Will

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

How do you balance a call to minister if it is not financially responsible to let go of a full-time job?  Often people contact me who are considering full-time ministry or who have shifted to full-time ministry, but are financially struggling. They don’t understand why their call to ministry didn’t equal permission to give full-time focus to it. When working through the process I talk about what the call to ministry means, and how a workplace calling may or may not be the same. This is a crucial difference to understand.

 

The Lord calls us all to minister as He determines.  Our part is to listen and obey. Some church members mistakenly think that only the pastoral staff or retired people need to minister.  Peter wrote, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV) The Lord calls each person to ministry; some to full-time ministry, others to part-time ministry.  Paul was a tentmaker and told the church, “You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.” (Acts 20:34, NIV) At times in his ministry, Paul received sufficient support to minister full time.  Other times he needed non-ministerial work to support his ministry platform.

A question to answer is this:  if money were not an issue, what would I do to fulfill God’s call on my life? The answer to this question can only come from the Lord. When it comes, this is our ministry calling. Paul wrote, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:14, NIV) No one gift or calling is better than another. God calls each of us to fulfill His purpose, not ours.

The ministry calling may or may not provide a wage. Scripture relates that “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19, NIV) All of us, unless we’re physically unable, should work. If we are able to work full time in our calling and make a living; that’s great. However, most of us can’t make an adequate living wage that way.  Therefore, we must hold another job to put food on the table and cover our necessities.

An excellent teacher may be called to minister by teaching, but perhaps not full time in Christian ministry. Instead, the person may answer the call by teaching Sunday school or by leading a small group or by teaching in public education to be salt and light. Another person may be called to music ministry but may not be able to earn a living doing concerts or selling CD’s.  Instead, this person may find an important role in worship leadership or music education. Still another with the gift of administration may not be hired as a staff member but may assist the church in a volunteer role.

Conflict arises when people believe that the only way to serve the Lord is by full-time ministry. I have met with several who felt the Lord’s call, and left a paying job to get involved in full-time ministry. Unfortunately, the result is not always positive.  The crux of the issue is that while each is called to minister, each may not be called to full-time ministry.

Consider what would happen if every Christian worked full time in ministry.  Who would bake the bread, build the homes, tend to banking, produce the cars, or do the thousands of tasks necessary for society to function?  This world needs Christians who answer God’s call to use their spiritual gifts and abilities beyond the church and its ministry opportunities.

When someone asks me if a person should start a ministry, I direct them to God’s call. I ask them to explain what that means to them; how they believe the Lord has directed them to serve. If they need income, I ask how they will earn a living. Often I encourage them to minister part time while holding a full-time job.  That way, they can test the ministry opportunity.  As Paul wrote, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV)   

Steve and Cindy Wright are committed to Marriage Missions (www.marriagemissions.com). Cindy works full time in the ministry without salary while Steve holds down a day job. Steve also works in the ministry on some evenings and weekends. At this time, the Lord has not opened the door to allow both to work full time.  However, Steve’s job allows Cindy to work full time, while he can still work in the ministry each week.  The ministry has a high impact and great web traffic because Steve and Cindy have been obedient in answering God’s call, God’s way.   

Those who are retired or financially free have the opportunity to minister full time in their calling without the need to earn a salary. This is a privilege. Most of us are required to hold a job to feed our families. Remember that this does not diminish God’s call in any way.  It may require answering the call with part-time rather than full-time ministry involvement.

God is faithful to meet our needs. How He meets those needs is up to Him not us. However, a full-time job may be part of God’s way to meet your needs. When we insist that the Lord arrange a full-time paid position, we presume upon the Lord rather than obeying Him. What if part of His call wants you in the marketplace?

Before quitting your day job, ask the question: “Is there any other way to answer God’s call except by full-time ministry?” If the answer is yes, you should investigate the options that allow you to work without compromising your ability to minister in the area of your calling. Listen to God, and obey. Then you will know how to discern between full-time and part-time ministry.

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Comments (8)add comment

IZZY JEFF said:

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what are the advantages and disadvantages of part time ministry?
 
July 11, 2013
Votes: +2

Steve Marr said:

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I believe the Lord calls each of us to ministry, some full time and others part time. I don't see one as more advantages then the other, the key is to discern, understand then obey the Lords call.
 
July 12, 2013
Votes: +0

Cindy Wright said:

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Thanks Steve, for this. I just now read it and am very touched that you included Steve and me in this blog. God is so gracious to allow us to participate with Him in this amazing way. Thank God that so far every bill has been paid. We serve an amazing God!
 
June 02, 2014
Votes: +0

blessing said:

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Thank for all the wise words ,I realy need assistance in my ministry ,I'm based in south africa,number ±27789044727
 
November 09, 2014
Votes: +0

blessing said:

...
Thank for all the wise words ,I realy need assistance in my ministry ,I'm based in south africa,number ±27789044727
 
November 09, 2014
Votes: +0

blessing said:

...
Thank for all the wise words ,I realy need assistance in my ministry ,I'm based in south africa,number ±27789044727
 
November 09, 2014
Votes: +0

blessing said:

...
We realy need your assistance Man and Women of GOD,I'm pastoring here in south africa,we realy have bg problems,in our churches and ministries,iff you can assist us yo can call us on this number ±27789044727,or email@ febn1@hotmail.com.
 
November 09, 2014
Votes: +0

blessing said:

...
We realy need your assistance Man and Women of GOD,I'm pastoring here in south africa,we realy have bg problems,in our churches and ministries,iff you can assist us yo can call us on this number ±27789044727,or email@ febn1@hotmail.com.
 
November 09, 2014
Votes: +0

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