I’ve been mentoring ministry students and younger ministers for most of my life in ministry, both on the mission field and here in America. There are many struggles and challenges we face on the way to growth and maturity in our calling. The Lord has brought me through many such trials. With it has come understanding that I wanted to share with you. These secrets will help you enter into a settled and restful state of heart, where you are no longer striving. I hope they are a blessing to you, for they are written out of the pain of my own journey to maturity.
“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter….” (Heb 11:24). In his youth, Moses didn’t always make right choices, but as he matured, his choices brought more honor to God.
David was anointed (selected) to be king as a teenager (1 Sam 16:1, 21), but he didn’t begin to reign until he was age 30 (2 Sam 5:4).
Elisha was chosen to take Elijah’s place (1 Kings 19:16-21), but it wasn’t until years later that it was fulfilled.
It took a considerable number of years for Paul to mature in his calling.
Even Jesus had to subject Himself to others for a period in His life so that He could mature (Lk 2:51-52).
Maturity in the call of God can be likened to a seed. The process begins at conception before moving on to birth and maturity.
“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest is come.” (Mk 4:26-29 NIV)
I realize that this parable refers to the Word of God producing fruit in a person’s life, but I am going to use it to show the process of maturity in the call of God. By call of God, I mean your God-given function and purpose in the kingdom of God especially, but not limited to, those called to the ministry of the Word.
The maturity of the call of God in you is a maturity in and of your spirit. The call of God and you are inseparable. Unless you mature and develop spiritually, you will never fulfill the call of God on your life. Now follow this real closely because the following principles which we share will save your life, and bring you into a greater anointing of the Spirit.
Maturity in the call of God begins with a seed and moves through the different stages of development until there’s a harvest. Here are the elements which make up the harvest of your calling.
1) The Seed: You see, the call of God is first a seed, and in order for that seed to germinate and bear fruit it must die (John 12:24). It must die to its own life, way, plan, and ministry. It must die to the harvest it thinks it should produce and the time of fulfillment. A seed lets the process of maturity happen without a struggle. It does not struggle with time and identity. It cannot control either one.
Secondly, the seed must be watered and nurtured. Every believer needs a mentor and a father. He must have the right environment and atmosphere to grow. A godly vision and example must be set before him. Godly training must be given. Submit to be taught, fathered, and trained. Submit to the nurturing process.
Have you ever known a forty year old man who was immature and irresponsible? A person becomes that way because of two basic reasons. He had no one in his life to father and train him, or he failed to submit properly to them. Naturally and spiritually, this is true. Even though ultimately God is our spiritual Father, we still need to follow and learn from the godly example of older saints.
2) The Soil: The call of God must have the right soil which has been plowed, cultivated, and fertilized (Lk 13:6-9). The soil is your own heart. Notice that all by itself the soil produces fruit (Mk 4:28).
The amount of time it takes to mature spiritually and in the call of God is ultimately determined by the condition of your heart. That is why it is so important to keep your heart and spirit right. Make it a priority to minister to your own spirit continually through prayer and the Word and fellowship with God. And never allow strife and dishonor to enter into your relationships, especially those who are over you in the Lord.
Jesus taught in the parable of the sower (Mk 4) that the quality of the soil determines the quantity and quality of the harvest.
“The measure of thought, study, and use your heart gives to the truth it hears, is the measure that comes back to you, and even more.” (Mk 4:24-25 Amp)
Use what you have or you will eventually lose it. Walk in the light and truth you now have, and more will be given. Some people are waiting for their “big” ministry or “big” break but not using what they have now.
3) The branch: The “branch” stage of development in the Christian life and in the call of God is when you will begin to see a “budding” and a “sprouting”. Here you may even begin to see some fruit and to recognize more fully your calling. It is usually at this stage also where vision is realized. Growth and momentum are happening.
The “branch” stage of development is both very exciting and very dangerous. Right at this stage is where many believers falter. They can become very independent, proud, and self sufficient. With growth and momentum in your calling, it becomes very easy to do things that the Lord has not told you to do. It is here where you really begin to grow, but it is here also where an un-submissive attitude may begin to show.
The branch must stay connected to the Vine (John 15:1-2). You will be challenged here to remain in the Lord, and to stay aligned with His purposes for your life and calling. This is a lifetime challenge, but more so in this pruning season.
The “branch” stage of development is usually a difficult season for many believers especially for those who have a real calling to the ministry. This is the season of severe “pruning” and “purging”. God knows it is painful, but He also knows that without it you will not bear more fruit. Every branch that will bear more fruit will not do so without being pruned. Growth and maturity is painful.
Even Jesus had to learn obedience by the things which He suffered (Heb 5:8).
Small children and especially teenagers experience pain in their soul on their way to further maturity. Spiritually speaking, it is the same way.
One cannot really mature properly without submitting to this painful pruning process. Suffering according to the will of God (many suffer outside of the will and purpose of God due to their own ignorance, unbelief, and disobedience) is a part of our learning to submit and obey.
Listen to this powerful statement: Purging and pruning is a work of the Spirit in our lives that is very necessary because the vision we have for our lives and ministry is often ahead of the maturity of our character, the fullness of our calling, and the season of expected harvest.
4) The Harvest: This is the fourth and final element of the maturing process. Patience and perseverance along with a keen spiritual discernment of the times and seasons are two of the greatest qualities of heart which will help us to reap the God ordained harvest for our lives and callings.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (perseverance or endurance). But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing.” (Jam 1:2-4)
Once you know your place in Christ, your calling, and the season of its fullness you will not be shaken in all the trials of your faith. It is difficult to shake someone from what he knows is God’s will. Your faith is that which you know to be the will of God for your life. That which is only of the soul or emotions will not produce a spiritual harvest because you will quit during the pruning process.
The full cycle of patience’s perfect work will produce perfect (mature) character and completeness in you where you are lacking in nothing. Until you are lacking in nothing, you are not ready for something.
The conforming of our character to the image of Christ is the harvest that God wants. When your character is mature and complete, then you are ready for your harvest. Let God have His harvest so you can reap yours.
These principles will save your life, and you will come into a greater anointing of the Spirit.
God will test you on this. The enemy will attempt to sidetrack you. People will run right in front of you, and they will seem to get more favor from leadership than you do. They will seem to get the favor, position, and benefits you thought were yours. Remember, though that God’s gifts and calling are without repentance (Rom 11:29).
No leader, organization, or man can control God’s gifts and calling in you. God and you control it. God and your willingness to the submission of God’s plan is what ultimately controls the gifts and calling on your life.
So be patient and let God have His perfect way in you.