After a chat with a buddy on theological training and its outcomes, I had to ask this question. “What should be the outcomes after four years of studying theology?” Many people would respond by saying that it is in the pastorate (church) that all or most students should end up in. Others may say the mission field. The idea that does surface is that often we get the calling confused with that of the office. In other words we confuse function with office. So how should we respond to that?
I do think that we have asked the incorrect questions when it comes to theological studies and its outcomes. Instead of asking where are you called to, we should ask what are your called to? In other words, what is it that God has called you to do? Let’s get a bit closer to home here and use myself as an example. I believe I am called to minister to young people. Now automatically you would assume I will take up a post as a youth pastor at a church. What has typically happened here is that we confuse the calling (a function) with a post (an office). As someone who ministers to youth, that office can exist in more than one expression, namely, as a youth pastor at a local church, as a teacher at a school, as a person at an NGO that has youth as its mandate and that list could go on forever. There are many more examples one can use but I hope it brings the point home?
When we are called to the ministry it primarily means we are called in a capacity to make Jesus known to people. That is the FUNCTION. Our calling is NOT to an OFFICE but that of a function. The function, as mentioned above, is to make known Jesus to the world (by the way that is every believers calling as well). So let’s not get too stressed about where we will end up because the place we end up at will always be negotiable. I do believe that God is bigger than the limitation we place on ourselves and that of our callings. We sometimes wonder that if we do hang out at a place so different from that of traditional ministries we might be missing the mark. That is because we confuse our function with office. Again, I would like to propose that the office (where we minister) is irrelevant, as long as we fulfil our function (that which God has called us to). This office may never meet people’s satisfaction or what they may believe to be a relevant place to minister.
So at the end of the day we should be saying that it doesn’t matter where you end up or what the office looks like that you hold. What does matter is that you fulfill the mandate that has been given to you by God.