“It pleased him to let me see and know his Son so that I could tell the Good News about him to the non-Jewish people. I immediately prepared to do this work without asking for advice or help from anyone. I did not go to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was. But, without waiting, I went away to Arabia. Later, I went back to the city of Damascus” (Galatians 1:16-17 ERV).
In defending his apostolic calling to the regional churches of Galatia, Paul the Apostle established a principle we can apply in regard to our perception of God’s call upon our lives. However, that principle is one that bears close and prayerful examination as we seek to implement it.
First, we should note that Paul acted upon his conviction regarding God’s direction for his life without seeking the approval, authorization, or consent of others. This is important to remember if we should encounter those who seek to limit or object to our sense of God’s calling upon our lives.
For instance, some may feel we are too young or too old to undertake a particular avenue of ministry. Others might object to a perceived lack of education or experience. Perhaps we might be seen as too ambitious or there may be some other agenda at work. But if we are convinced that God has called us to enter an area of ministry, we must move forward in preparing for that work even if others do not approve.
However, this doesn’t mean we are free to reject constructive criticism or discard the counsel of others. It also doesn’t mean we can ignore the recommendations of God-honoring parents, friends, counselors, educators, or spiritual leaders. In this respect, it’s important to distinguish between those who wish to help us identify the best way to follow our convictions and those who do not support our sense of God’s direction in our lives.
For some, this may mean a time (or a lifetime) of bi-vocational ministry as we fulfill our ministerial responsibilities alongside our roles as employees, students, or full-time parents. But wherever God’s roadmap takes us, we can often benefit by asking the following questions:
- What are the skills that God has given me?
- What talents or abilities do I possess?
- What catches my attention? What do I “see” that others don’t?
- What spiritual burdens do I carry?
- What life experiences can I use in ministering to others?
Remember that Paul the Apostle responded to God’s call upon his life by undertaking the work he was given to do- and we would do well to follow his good example.