Everyone who comes into the world has a tailor-made role that they are called to play for the betterment of mankind. The tragedy, however, is that many people purposelessly drift through life and never come to understand why God brought them here. If one lacks knowledge concerning their purpose, they need to pray and enquire from the Holy Spirit what is expected of them so that they can effectively fulfil their calling.
If you are not sure of the parameters of your specific calling, ask the Lord in prayer. In the book of Acts 13:1-3, after the disciples had prayed and fasted, the Holy Spirit revealed to them that Paul and Barnabas had to be separated for the specific work that God had prepared for them.
Jesus Christ was such a phenomenal success because he understood the scope of his calling and refrained from doing anything at cross-purposes with it. The ministry of Jesus was primarily focused on Israel, which is why he never ventured out into the wider Gentile world, but delegated that responsibility to his disciples. When a Gentile woman implored Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter, his response, at face value, sounded more like an insult. He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel… It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”(Matthew 15:24-26).
What this simply means is that as an individual, you are not called to minister to everyone. It is clear in the scripture above that Jesus understood that he was called to minister to Israel.
In Ephesians 4:11, Paul spelt out that God had established five ministry offices: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The tragedy, however, is that many have sought to delve into ministry offices far divorced from their callings, with tragic consequences. Understandably, one may feel that being a prophet is more “glamorous” because of the spotlight. But if you are a teacher, don’t force yourself into the prophetic ministry and if you are a prophet, don’t seek the office of an evangelist or apostle. In fact, you have an obligation to elevate your own office: “Now a word to you who are Gentiles. I should like you to know that I make as much as I can of my ministry as God’s messenger to the Gentiles…” (Romans 11:12-13).
You’re not called to minister to everyone. There are people that God has specifically designed you to reach with the gospel. Your obligation is to reach those people, shepherd them, and ensure that none of them is lost. Jesus’ ministry, for instance, was specifically focused on that inner cabal of 12 men he picked up from the hundreds of disciples who trailed him. These were the men he spent most of his time with, taught and ministered to more than anyone else and at the close of his ministry, he delegated them the duty to carry forward his message to those He had not directly reached because they were not within the scope of his calling.
In the beautiful prayer Jesus offered for his disciples as his earthly ministry drew to a close, we see that although Jesus had not personally ministered to everyone in the world, he had, nevertheless, fulfilled the call of God on his life: “While I was with them (the 12 apostles) in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12).
Popular Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) television programme, The 700 Club, once featured the story of a woman who had a phenomenally successful ministry among sex workers, most of whom she eventually led to Christ. The woman understood that her calling was specifically to minister to sex workers upon whom society frowned, and to effectively reach them, she dressed as a sex worker and frequented the red light districts in which they worked. After winning the confidence of the sex workers who had embraced her as one of their own, she began her ministry, reaching them one by one.
People struggled to understand her because of the unconventional manner in which she operated. When you start to fulfil your calling, you may be misunderstood, especially within the Christian community itself. Your journey, as Paul will tell you, will be fraught with pitfalls. His ministry to the Gentiles was misunderstood by the early apostles who thought salvation was just for the Jews among whom Jesus had walked.
Although Paul did not minister to everyone even among the Gentiles, at the end of his life, he had the unshakable conviction that he had fulfilled his calling. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Although Paul was not able to minister in certain towns and cities (after he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit), he was still satisfied that he had fulfilled his calling. If you are a pastor, you also have to appreciate that God has not called you to reach everyone, so never compare the size of your church with that of the next pastor. The grace upon your life will cover a certain number —maybe just 500, a thousand, a million, etc.