I recently got into a discussion on Alan Hirsch’s blog on gifting and ministry, particularly with reference to apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic gifts and their marginalization within contemporary Christianity, when I had this to say:
I think there is a question of vested interests, amongst both laity and clergy to leave things as they are, and that it can lead to implicit and explicit repression of those gifts which most threaten the status quo. So there is a real challenge as to how we might bless the church with gifts it does not want or even think it needs. I think this is where it is important to have a firm sense of calling. Whether the church wants it or not, body diversity is what God calls us to. And this calling is not status specific, it matters not if we are laity or clergy, it only matters that we are God’s people.
This reminds me of a sermon I once heard from a visiting African preacher, on how to stay fired up without burning out. It was at a TEAR conference I think – many years ago. Anyway, he grounded his sermon in the story of the burning bush. Moses was puzzled. How could this bush stay fired up without burning out? Well, because God was fueling the flame, not the bush! This is partly what I am alluding to here. Where we ground our motivation is important. If it is not in God’s call, if instead it is in our own needs, ultimately we won’t last the distance. If we are going to last the distance, if we are going to be standing firm long after the status quo has collapsed, we need a deep awareness of what we are called to and who is doing the calling. And I am talking about all of us here, not just clergy.