Being paid to study and teach the Bible has to be the BEST job in the world! Seriously, think about it. You spend hours and hours praying, reading, studying and teaching the Word of God and at the end of month, someone hands you a check for doing that? How wonderful is that? Hey, if you are wondering – that’s my job and I love it! I don’t love it for the money (though I need the money to pay some bills and care for my family). I’ve got a wife and two kids and lots of other responsibilities. I need the money and I am thankful that I do get paid. But you know what, even if I wasn’t getting paid, I would find a way to keep doing what I am doing and care for my family at the same time. Like, Paul, I could go tent-making or something like that. I would do anything if I had to – thankfully I don’t – for now anyway and I praise the Lord for such mercy and grace to me and my family!
Today, I would like to follow up on yesterday’s post, Where Are All the Men, and talk about some reasons why many young men in our day don’t want to go into the ministry.
Jesus in talking to His disciples in Matthew 9:37 said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…” Here is what Matthew records for us in Matthew 9:35-38:
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
The Lord Jesus Christ looked around Him and saw a needy people, a people “harassed and helpless” or “dispirited” “like sheep without a shepherd.” And then He gave His analysis of the situation, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” I think Jesus’ analysis of the spiritual condition of the men and women in our cities and villages today would be the same. Though outwardly people look “okay” they are not so inwardly. All the TV stars that we know, the celebrities, “powerful” people in government, all the multitude of people across the globe, need Christ desperately. Many of them have been bruised and are being bruised by the effects of sin. They are looking for peace, happiness and joy in all the wrong places. Their relative success isn’t cutting it for them – that’s because they need Christ. Then, they are all the multitude of people all around the world who aren’t celebrities, they aren’t among the “powerful” – they are vulnerable in every way – they too need Christ! Christ alone is the answer to the problem!
Here is the BIG question: If this analysis is correct (and it is), if Christ is alone is the answer (and He is), then why aren’t we seeing more young men going into the ministry so that they can preach Christ to these people? I am sure there are a myriad of reasons as to why this is the case. And, I would also like to state here that I am aware of the fact our individual situations and circumstances are different and that sometimes certain constraints are placed upon us which make it difficult to do what we may have been called to do. I am also aware that there are exceptions to the general comments that I am about to make. But I think the following five reasons contribute to the problem:
1. A Lack of Compassion for Lost Souls – this I am sure is the biggest problem. Jesus was moved with compassion for the souls of the men and women that He encountered, every time He encountered them. He was first and foremost concerned about people’s spiritual condition above all else. When compassion for souls characterizes one’s life – it’s difficult – and I would even say, that it’s impossible to ignore the call to preach, the call to the ministry. The only response in that situation is: “Woe is me, if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
2. A Loss of Confidence in the Gospel and It’s Power to Save Lost Souls – This is a sad reality in our day. Even those who are in the church (clergy and laity alike) seem to have lost the necessary confidence that they need to have in the power of the gospel. That’s why you see many churches today replete with all kinds of programs aimed at “supplementing” the gospel – or “improving” the gospel – or making the gospel more “relevant” and more “attractive.” Why, because many people today do not really believe that the gospel is intrinsically sufficient, relevant or necessary to the human soul. But Romans 1:16 tells us that the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes” Jews and Gentiles alike. There is a desperate and urgent need for the gospel to get out there NOW!
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)
3. A Lack of Courage to Face the Unknown – Many young men (and old men too), but mostly young men just don’t want to go there! Too many risks! Too many unknowns! Too many uncertainties! The list could go on and on! And so what happens is that most of our young men are more concerned about getting those lucrative, white-collar jobs which promise a relative measure of financial security, power and prestige. I think this lack of courage – this unwillingness to take risks for the gospel and lost souls coupled with a low view of the gospel ministry and its power to change lives for eternity cripples and kills many young people’s ambition and desires to enter the ministry.
4. A Lack of Good Role Models – I think we really need God’s help here. We need to do a better job of training our young people and modeling what faithful, God-centered, gospel ministry looks like. We need to be more intentional too about training and preparing our young people for the gospel ministry from a very young age. This means that parents as well as pastors should be praying and working together for this causes. Personally, I think every pastor should have a “Timothy” and every “Timothy” should have a “Titus” if we are to see a significant reversal in the modern trend. There is biblical precedence for this in the life of Paul (for example) – see 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul says to Timothy: “…What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” It would foolish and presumptuous of us to ignore this apostolic precedence and admonition! The flip side of the same problem is that there just aren’t many good, faithful, committed, strong, Word-saturated, God-centered pastors around! The “stick-to-it kind” of pastors. Many of them are “hirelings” who are always marking the EXIT doors and are ready to “jump ship” with the slightest trial and/or temptation. And, you can understand how difficult it would be for our young people to develop enough confidence in the ministry. We have given then little or no reason to urge and help embrace the call to the ministry.
5. Spiritual Apathy – Defeatism. O, what a deadly disease this is! What a plague on the modern church this has become! Frankly speaking, many of the people who frequent the church today – and yes, even those who frequently preach (pastors) – many of them have already given up the fight – tragically. They are no longer fighting “the good fight of faith.” They are walking by sight and no longer by faith as they (and all of us Christians) should. And what do they see around them? More apathy! More rebellion against God! More people drowning themselves in the pool of sin and indulging themselves in the deadly pleasures! On the other hand, they see dwindling numbers in many of our churches, lack of commitment to the truth claims of Christ and His Word. They see Christians fighting over nothing and churches splitting because they couldn’t agree on whether the main entrance should be on the north or the south side of their church building. They see the church engaged in this and several other trivialities and they want nothing to do with the church let alone the gospel ministry.
We need to repent of this and seek God’s help. And we need to heed Christ’s call! Let’s “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). Only He can do it and we want Him to do it – not we ourselves apart from Him.
For those young men out there who may be considering the gospel ministry, I have some good news for you: It’s the highest calling any man can receive from the LORD! If you have any inclination within you towards the gospel ministry, I urge you to seek the Lord faithfully and diligently in prayer and in the study of His Word. Talk to your family members about it – ask them to pray with and for you. Talk to your church leaders – seek their counsel and prayer support. Talk to your friends (the good ones – the ones you can trust). Be open to the possibility and be on the look out for God’s leading in that direction and be ready to take the first step when He calls! You will never regret! More on this later! Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15)