As We Change in Ministry

Over the years I have felt that we need to rethink some aspects of evaluation for ministry.

  1.  Missionary Calling is thought of as a single divine action to a place or vocation. Perhaps one could say that the Missionary Call is a single act of the sending church, but from the divine standpoint, such a calling appears to be more of a path.  As such, it is more dynamic than static.
  2. Spiritual gifting is often viewed as a one-time supernatural gifting that last forever. There seems to be no good basis for any of that. Again, it seems like it is dynamic… where our gifting changes based on where we are and what we are to do.

I think there are good theological bases for these, but in part, I see it in terms of my life. When I was young, I was a math/science guy. On my SATs (college entrance exam) I did excellent on the math side, and decent (unspectacular) on the verbal side. I got my degree in mechanical engineer, and served 5 years in the Navy. After I got out, took my GRE (graduate school entrance exam) my grades reversed. I did excellent on verbal, and good on math, and adequate on logic. Not sure why it changed.

When I went into missions, I focused on administrative work and logistics.  The strong verbal side helped me. However, I wasn’t a “people person.” I worked best typing away behind the computer. But then my wife started getting involved in pastoral counseling, and I ended up being dragged into doing counseling. I often felt that I was faking being a person who is relational and pastoral. But the more I faked the role, the more I found that I was becoming what I was pretending to be. I am sure I have a quite a way to go. But it is clear that my strengths… my gifts… are changing.

This hardly should be surprising. We do personality tests… and it is recommended that the tests are redone every 3 years because our personality is in flux. Of course, it is not only our personalities that are in flux. Our experiences are in flux. Our talents are in flux. Our sphere on influence is in flux.

Frankly, two of descriptions of the Christian life, “Following Christ” and “walking on narrow path” are descriptions of change.

I don’t recommend asking someone about their missionary calling… but their spiritual or ministerial path. Likewise. I wouldn’t focus on a “Spiritual Gift Assessment.” That might provide a snapshot for a very limited part of what God is doing in a person’s life. I think they are of little value. If the assessment is more than a couple of years old, they may be less than worthless since they may ignore what God is doing now.


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