You’ve probably seen this statistic floating around Facebook recently. The statistic read: 97% of pastors have been betrayed or accused by their trusted friends. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the source of this study, so for all I know, it could be entirely made up. But it did get me thinking, even if this statistic is only half true, that means there’s a lot of uncertainty and doubt that surrounds pastors with it comes to the confidence in your calling.
As I was writing and preparing for my latest book, Creative Potential: Principles for Unleashing Your God-Given Calling, I felt as if God gave me a few amazing revelations about our calling, and the confidence we can have in knowing that God is asking us to step into our purpose. As pastors, it’s easy to listen to the world in which we live and let it affect our spiritual, emotional or physical well-being. But we must remember that we live in a broken world, and broken people give broken advice often. So here are a few thoughts as to how we can have confidence in the call that we’ve received from God about being a pastor or stepping into ministry.
1. The Confidence of the Cross.
Our purpose isn’t for our benefit, but instead kingdom benefit. No pastor that I’ve ever met has responded to the call from God because of the money they are going to make or the social influence they’re about to gain. In reality, usually they make pennies and don’t get invited to a lot of events because they’re “pastors,” right?
But when I began to study scripture, I realized that our purpose in life is a large reason for why Christ died on the cross for us. As Paul writes in Galatians, “It’s for freedom that Christ has set us free…” This means we were never meant to be bound by the success or patterns of this world, but instead free to pursue the God-given calling placed on our lives. This idea should inherently give us unrivaled confidence in our calling because we have the cross behind us. It unlocked our freedom, so we can use that freedom to throw off the shame, fear, doubt and unknown that comes into walking out the call on our lives!
2. Confidence without Copying.
Another temptation of the world around us is to copy the things that are working well. You’ve seen it too: that one pastor who is killing it with his creative applications to scripture, or the Instagram account that seems to have an entire Hollywood post-production team working on their weekend recap videos. It’s frustrating sometimes. And that temptation to copy what they’re doing begins to creep into our minds.
But I believe we will rob our own creative potential if we try to copy what we see around us. Instead of copying, let’s start creating for ourselves out of the unique gifts, talents and abilities that God has bestowed upon each of us. You may not have the same revelations that Andy Stanley or Louie Giglio has, and your messages may be very different. But those pastors don’t have the mind that God gave you, which was designed and proposed before the creation of the world to reach the people God has in front of you. That alone should give us confidence in our calling.
3. Comparison Will Kill Your Confidence.
Just as much as copying will kill your potential, so will your constant comparison to those around you. My friend Jon Acuff says, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” because he knows that comparison will bring about a paralyzing fear and prevent us from stepping into the very thing that God has purposed for our lives. But there’s an interesting thing about fear: it should be a catalyst for confidence rather than something that prevents our potential.
Have you ever thought about the emotions that Jesus may have endured during the cross? I can only imagine that He had a great amount of fear as He was going through the last few hours of his life on earth. Even though the final destination was known, it would scare me to think that Hell was a place I would have to go (even for a few minutes) because of the Sin that He bore on our behalf. When fear and comparison creep in, let’s recognize that it can be a catalyst for us to move into intimacy with Christ, rather than a wall that may prevent us from the creative potential that God has for us.
4. Don’t Franchise that Confidence.
The last thing I want to share about confidence in your calling is what happens when you start to step into your calling. Things will begin to gain momentum, your calling becomes clearer and people’s lives will begin to be transformed as you step into the fullness of your potential. When this happens, there’s a temptation to franchise or replicate the success you’ve seen. You’ll want to give the same sermon over and over. You’ll think that it was the story that changed people, rather than the application to scripture that opened their eyes to the Gospel.
When we control too much of the environment we’re surrounded within, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to need God in the pursuit of our calling. That’s a dangerous place to be. Instead, let’s work like our calling is up to us (being great stewards of our giftedness) but pray knowing it’s all up to God (to remind ourselves of the sovereignty of God).
You have an amazing ability to bring heaven to earth as you step into the fullness of your own Creative Potential.