A Passion and Vision for Ministry

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“25Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Col. 1.25-29

Paul, our brother and apostle in Christ, certainly had a passion and a vision for the ministry of the call of Christ upon his life. However, though his calling might have been unique; and the visitation of our Lord upon hiM overpowering, these qualities of passion and vision are not exclusive to Paul alone. To have passion and vision in ministry must be an integral part of every ministry set in place, by God, in the Body of Christ. These qualities are not innate as a part of the natural abilities, emotions, and talents of man. They come, or maybe I should say, emerge, with the call and anointing of God upon that person.

We will borrow from Paul’s life to further understand true calling and ministry. Reading Col. 1.25-19 above are noted are three outstanding facts regarding ministry in the Church: calling, passion, and vision.

First, the Calling

“…I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me…”

Vocation or Calling. One may have a strong urge to pursue a certain vocation in life; perhaps a teacher, lawyer, doctor, plumber, or mechanic; or even a pastor, priest, or missionary. There is an inward desire to enter into and practice that particular profession. This urge is formulated within one’s own mind and heart. It arises from within; perhaps from a combination of influences like education, culture, and personality help shape this inclination. Vocations may change because of dissatisfaction in the chosen profession leads to interest in another; or for practical reasons such as out of financial need. This is not uncommon; teachers become insurance salesmen, emergency technicians become nurses, pastors become counselors, and worship leaders become secular musicians. Other times “artists” remain artists even in poverty.

With regards to the Church, and the Kingdom of God, however, the calling arises not from within but from without, separate from one’s self. It comes from a source completely outside one’s own mind and heart; from the Lord Himself. Perter, James and John were fishermen, Matthew was a tax collector, and Simon was a zealot, enthusiastically pursuing his dream as a political activist. Paul was a Pharisee, a teacher and official within the Jewish religion. At a moment in time, quite unsuspectingly, the call came to each, “Follow Me.” Mt. 4.19, 22. Immediately they left their vocations never to return to that way of life. True, there firstly is a call to salvation, “…no one can come to Me (Jesus Christ) unless the Father has granted it to him.” Jn. 6.65 All truly born again believers in Christ can fully identify with this “calling” or summons by God to salvation in and through His Son. Beyond that, however, there is a calling unto service, “And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,’” Mt. 4.19; and to Paul, “Then He (Jesus Christ) said to me, ‘Go! I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” Acts 22.21 The call to ministry in the Church, as a functioning member of the Body of Christ, is a calling from above, outside the natural realm altogether. Anything less is a vocation, perhaps an honorable vocation, but never-the-less, a profession. We can make a distinction, therefore, between a ministry vocation and a ministry calling.

As in most vocations, people find themselves learning, organizing, assigning responsibilities and office functions, and ranking others. Within the military, for instance, one can see that man can be quite good at such things. The army functions very efficiently; everyone clearly knows what to do, his title, place, function, and responsibilities. However, this is not the case with the Church and the Kingdom of God. The setting into positions, of ministries, and of assigning responsibilities is outside the umbrella and and authority of man. Jesus said, 18”And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 16.18-19  Our Lord is yet today building His Church. To those who have an ear to hear, He is the residing Head, and all things are beneath His feet…His jurisdiction. His is supreme Lord and overseer of His Church, the Great Shepherd. He calls, He sets into place, and He sends into ministry. “For all who are (being, lit.) led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Rm. 8.14

Seminaries, Bible schools, degrees, certificates, teaching libraries, online classes, development of various music skills, and so on, are 100% needed by those in church related vocations: even pastors, Sunday school teachers, missionaries, marriage counselors, administrators, worship leaders, and various ministries of helps. However, when it comes to a calling into ministry, all of these learning activities may be helpful aids but not prerequisites or requirements. Here, the anointing supersedes all these ancillary aids that only provide necessary support for the vocation yet lack elements that come with the calling and anointing, such as spiritual revelation, discernment, and intuition.

These three, revelation, discernment, and intuition are the eyes, ears, and taste senses of the spirit in ministry. They are indispensable to the proper functioning of a ministry, otherwise the prophet prophesizes out of his flesh; the teacher instructs from the encyclopedia of Biblical knowledge and experiences gained over the years; the worship leader brings professionalism and a degree of secularism to “move” the people in worship; the missionary helps to build literal churches and teach English; and those of helps organize meals, aid those in physical need, and plan secular activities for the church; and the prayer warrior prays for the obvious physical and emotional needs of the people while neglecting the weightier spiritual needs of holiness, righteousness, and character. I have heard two ministers give the exact same message, yet with one the people walk away with an increase in knowledge, saying only “I learned something today.” While with the other teacher the people are somehow touched in the inner man and stirred within. They are not sure of all that they have learned, but something is birthed within to pursue its reality in their lives. The ministry functioning under the calling makes a spiritual impartation into the lives of others—“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established.” Rm. 1.11

God Set and Sends. In the true Church, one does not choose his ministry as vocations are done in the secular world. If man builds the church, it then becomes religion. According to God’s eternal purposes, the Church was never intended to be a Christian religion with standardized worship services, rites and rituals, bylaws and programs. Actually, religion found its death with Christ. It was terminated. The Church is actually to become something spiritually alive, functioning as a living organism with Christ as its head and believers making up its body as individual contributing members: “And God put everything under His feet and made Him (Christ) head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Eph. 1.22-23

The Church must ever remain of God, by God, through God and for God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ. The Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are directly involved in, and spiritually connected to, the Church. There is a grand objective for the Church and the Holy Spirit is commissioned to oversee, empower, and move it towards that goal. Man is not to wrestle control of the Church out of God’s hands and form it into something he wants it to be, nor is he to form God into a deity of his own liking. How often have I heard, “God is love…” and then the individual launches out unto conjectures that go outside Biblical truths of the Gospel of Christ, of judgement, condemnation, discipline and rebuke. The Church must be spiritual and be led of the Holy Spirit, or it is simply a religion composed of vocations, with members of good intentions; a dead organization. The Church must awaken to the fact that believers are not only called to Christ by the Father, and called into ministry by Christ, but they are also set (or placed) and sent by God as well. All, of the church, is a matter of life, experiencing the realities of the Kingdom of God.

“But now God has placed (set) the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” 1 Cor. 12.18 This means that every member of the Church, which involves the assembling together and functioning as the Body of Christ, is to function in a position and a place ordained by God. Every member! No distinction is allowed to be made between “clergy” and “laity,” or “pastor” and “congregation.” In the secular, terms like “connected” and “mutual benefit” and “symbiotic relationship” are used. But in the Church, the verse, “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love,” Eph. 4.16 more accurately describes the nature of this relationship. Do you hear what is being said here? How sober we must be, not taking our involvement and responsibility in the Body lightly or flippantly, but in somberness come to our senses that Christ is our Head and has direct involvement in our spiritual life and function; and that the Spirit of Christ oversees such assemblies, with Christ in the midst; and every member functioning as the Lord has call and in the place set by God Himself.

In the natural, that of the armed forces comes the closest to replicating this. Here, there are many of different rank, and authority, and responsibility. All are set in place and sent into service by a higher authority. But in actual combat they become a band of brothers where survival means to cover your brother, care for him, even many have laid down their lives for their “brother.” The Body of Christ is called to function likewise but in the Spirit. Every member whose function and purpose is for the spiritual welfare of his brother or sister in Christ; and their calling in Christ sets him or her in that place of ministry, oftentimes a spiritual warfare.

Then comes the matter of being sent, of functioning outside the local assembly (Church); whether it be evangelism, missionary work, outreach, teaching, helps, testimony in word and music, or whatever the nature of one’s calling. How shall we conduct ourselves? Should we consider ourselves as being equipped for ministry and go forth executing that service, or do we remain in connection with Christ every step of the way? We need only to assay the life and ministry of Christ and ask the question, “Did Christ function in His ministry as the Messiah independently of the Father, or in union of the Father; as one sent?” We know, from the testimony of Christ Himself, that He and the Father did not come up with a plan, and the Father commissioned Him to go and carry out that plan on the earth, and then for Him to return to heaven with the results in hand. Not at all. He lived in communion with the Father, determining the Father’s will and direction every step of the way: “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Jn. 5.19

The apostle Paul was in constant prayer that he be obedient to the will of God, and that God make the way by opening and closing doors before him. In his letter to Rome, he wrote, “…how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.” Rm. 1.9-10 I have always been bothered by brethren who act like salesmen with a suitcase of goods, looking for opportunities to peddle their ware. Inviting themselves here and there, always looking for prospects for “ministry,” sharpening their talents. Rather, I see Paul prevailing patiently in prayer for direction and “a word of the Lord,” perhaps as a still small voice, revelation, prophecy, or an inner witness to opportunities. Oh how we must always bear in mind the words of Christ, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  Jn. 15.5 This, must become the mindset of all who go forth in service…as ones sent.

Second, Passion

“I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

All true ministries in the Body of Christ are born of the Spirit, as ones called by Christ. Various skills and aptitudes may be helpful but not essential. Once called and the calling received in fullness of faith, one then becomes gripped or possessed by this calling; it becomes an integral part of of life, never for a day absent from thought and prayer. I believe Paul expressed the nature of this gripping quite well, “but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Phil 3.12 I still appreciate the KJV, “but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Notice, Paul was apprehended. His whole spirit, soul, and body had been laid hold of by Christ. He was no longer his own, but had been bought with a price.

Furthermore, Paul also cried out with all his being, even as a prayer, that I might apprehend that. There is a yen, a deep yearning within his being to lay hold of the very purpose of his calling; to come into its fullness; to walk in its reality. This is passion—that strong, almost uncontrollable urge that is now a part of one’s soul. How much different this is than that of a vocation. Self is removed from the equation. Personal accomplishments are not a factor. Faithful obedience to Another is all that matters. One may never know the nature of the impact made upon others, what deposits were made into souls, and lives altered. If the Head, Jesus Christ, bids one to do this, speak thus, or to go there, he does it without contemplation or counting the costs—nor expecting a reaping or reward.

To be among a people of passion is a blessing. Even being joined with another with genuine passion for God and His high calling in Christ Jesus is a godsend. I have had the privilege to be with such a company of people for many years; and very close to some others from distant places. There is no real equation for “passion plus passion,” but the sum of which magnifies its power within one’s life.

Passion was born within the soul of Jesus Christ. “…I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Jn. 5.30. Not only does this speak of His selfless life desiring obedience to His Father, but the Greek use of the word “seek” means that it is occurring even while He is yet speaking. Such passion was a continual, on-going, part of His life; and is even to this day as He sits at the Fathers right hand. Thus passion in the believer is not of his own accord, as some magnification of an innate power. Heavens no! It is an outflow from Christ into the believer; it is not borrowed from Christ but is being drawn from Christ even as Zechariah’s vision of the lampstand. I this vision each of the lampstand’s seven lamps were continually being fed olive oil to burn for light through spouts from two adjacent olive trees. (See Zech, 4.2-4) There was a continual flow of life from the olive trees into the lamps, which in turn burned with light. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15.5 I never grow weary of quoting the verse.

Third, Vision

to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The word vision is appropriate here. Some may confuse it with a dream-like visualization, much like when Peter fell into a trance and saw something like a large sheet filled with unclean animals being lowered to the earth and the Lord spoke, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat.” Acts 10.9ff The word vision here refers to revelation and understanding, an opening up of the mysteries and the Kingdom of God. Vision is seeing clearly the purposes of God, the grand objective, the goal. When Paul wrote, “…but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,”  Phil. 3.13-14 his concept of the goal was exceedingly different than most salvation messages one hears today. Miniscule is the notion of “going to heaven” when one dies. Far more focused was his vision of clearly revealing God’s eternal purpose for the Church, for the Kingdom of God, and for the family of God. Vision, in this sense, is the point on the horizon to where one presses towards with all focus and passion.

So do you see, passion without vision is like a ship in a gale without a rudder. It is an aimless pursuit, tossed about with much fury, but unable to arrive at a destination.

Passion and Zeal. I would like to make a personal distinction between passion and zeal. It is not according to some dictionary definition but according to my view. Consider the following verse: “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” Rm. 10.2 So, one may be zealous, but without knowledge, (Gk. Epiginosko – meaning full discernment, full knowledge, experiential understanding.) This is why today fundamentalist Muslims can blow themselves up, because they are zealous, but without true understanding, epiginosko. Jews today are zealous for The Law but without the epiginosko of its fulfilment in Christ. Paul, a zealot for his Jewish faith persecuted Christians because he was without epiginosko. And babes in Christ, immature in understanding, become zealous fundamentalists for the Gospel sake but, all to often, not according to epiginosko. I believe by now you have come to some appreciation of this Greek word for fullness of knowledge, epiginosko.

Zeal can be ignorant and misdirected because it is learned knowledge originating from within man. Muslim fanatics learn from their Imam what should be done, and they do it with much fervor. From childhood Jews are taught from the Torah by parents and Rabbis “The Law” and they strictly follow codes of behavior and particular life styles. Many, many Christians follow Christ staunchly as a religion, being taught in Sunday school and church sermons the historical Christ, but never come into the epiginosko of Christ.

Passion is spiritual; it comes from Christ originating outside of human nature; and it is epiginosko—understanding that may be experiential. Passion is zeal with true full-knowledge. Paul, with all his advanced schooling under the most renown Pharisee, with great zeal persecuted the Church; but then he forsake all that knowledge, all that prestige, the entire Jewish lifestyle for the epiginosko of Christ, “…as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Phil.3.6-8.Hi

If zeal is passion without knowledge then what may be born of passion, but without vision, becomes zeal. Drawing close to Christ reveals the heart of God and unfolds the mysteries of God and His kingdom in epiginosko—a fullness of knowledge and experiential understanding. It reveals His purpose for our lives and that of His Church. I am passionate for Christ, but my heart yearns for a greater consuming passion for God (the Father and Lord Jesus Christ) and His calling upon my life. I want to know Him, His apprehension and purpose for my life. Not just what He says, and speculations about His Kingdom, and eternal calling.

This hour of our lives calls for soberness, without speculations, without determinations and certainly without the strivings of the flesh—the natural man. It is the time to present ourselves a living sacrifice, which means the “I” now longer try to determine my destiny, even a seemingly spiritual one. Christ must become the epicenter of our universe. All things become subservient to the supremacy of Christ. I must become that branch attached to that Vine, from which I draw my life.

Picture of Daniel DeVitis

Daniel DeVitis

Daniel P. DeVitis (Dan) has served in ministry for over 50 years. Since 1972 he has overseen a home church, Immanuel Fellowship, Shippensburg, PA, where he currently resides with his wife Petra. He was a professor of Geography and Earth Science at Shippensburg University until his retirement in 2003. He now serves as an elder in Unto Full Stature Ministries where he continues to author newsletters, write articles, and speak at leadership conferences and churches at and abroad.
Picture of Daniel DeVitis

Daniel DeVitis

Daniel P. DeVitis (Dan) has served in ministry for over 50 years. Since 1972 he has overseen a home church, Immanuel Fellowship, Shippensburg, PA, where he currently resides with his wife Petra. He was a professor of Geography and Earth Science at Shippensburg University until his retirement in 2003. He now serves as an elder in Unto Full Stature Ministries where he continues to author newsletters, write articles, and speak at leadership conferences and churches at and abroad.

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