Little Boy Soldiers
Pastor Bill Walden pastors Cornerstone Ministries of Napa Valley. You can find out more info about him on his blog at pastorbillwalden.com, and about his church at cmmv.org.
God calls His people to different tasks, and He gives them different gifts by which they may serve Him, but gifting is only one side of this equation. God gives the calling and the gifting, but we must grow into these callings and develop the gifts He has given us. We must also grow in the grace of God.
Let me offer a hypothetical example. A young man is called to be a leader in his church. Even as a young teen, the sense of it is strong, and he is sure of it. But with that calling, the young man must grow spiritually. He must respond appropriately. There must be self discipline and growth. Most importantly, he must learn to live in the grace of God for himself. His victories must be tempered with the knowledge that God’s grace has enabled him. His failures must be met with a sureness that God’s grace pardons him because of Jesus.
Let me offer an illustration. A young boy wants to be a soldier. He is intelligent, and a committed patriot. He studies weaponry and battle tactics. Because the army (church) is short on soldiers (servants), he is enlisted and outfitted. He is committed, but he hasn’t grown enough (matured enough) to be effective. His boots are too big; the gun is too heavy; and the fatigues make him stumble. Not only can he not do his job, but he endangers his fellow soldiers who have to constantly rescue him. They may even begin to resent him; not because they don’t like him, but because instead of helping, he actually makes warfare (ministry) more dangerous (difficult).
The proof that he is not ready is that he is not effective in battle (ministry). He talks like a soldier, dresses like a soldier, thinks like a soldier, and likes to spend time with soldiers, but he is not ready to be a soldier.
What will he do next? There are three possibilities.
1) He will go home, maintain his patriotism, eat well, exercise, and grow into manhood. This will require patience, but he sees that it is essential.
2) He will try to force the issue by joining another platoon (church), and insist that he is ready for battle. Because the warfare is intense, and the volunteers are few, the next platoon (church) readily welcomes him and puts him to work. He feels approved of, and is proud of his uniform (ministry title), until he starts lagging behind in battle (service), and the scenario repeats itself, and the young man’s frustration builds. The cycle can continue to repeat itself many times over. Either the young man will mature, or he will become so embittered that he loses his patriotism (Christian calling), and jettisons the whole idea of serving and leading.
3) He will start his own army of little boy soldiers. They will dress like soldiers, talk like soldiers, and believe that they are on (a) mission, but will accomplish nothing, and mislead others.
In Christian service, there is no substitute for maturity. In this instance, I define maturity as follows: Having a healthy self image in regards to who and what you are and aren’t. Knowing what gifts you do and don’t have. Not needing ministry to validate your worth.
In Christian service, there is no substitute for maturity.
Christian service is indeed a type of warfare. (2 Timothy 2:1-7). The church desperately needs leaders who have grown into the stature required for the position.
It is a good thing to desire to serve and lead, but maturity is also needed. May I suggest that you re-visit the comments of people that have released you from ministry. Re-think the times when you have been ineffective, or made big mistakes. Don’t blame your fellow soldiers or officers. Take a personal inventory of your maturity. Ask trusted friends to tell you the truth about yourself. If there is criticism, and if growth is needed, be willing to grow into the position of leadership instead of just expecting or demanding it.
Someone has said that it takes a crucified man to serve a crucified Christ. Let God do more work in you, so that He may do more work through you.
Let God do more work in you, so that He may do more work through you.