Casting Call For One
A few years ago Donald Trump hosted his reality show called the Apprentice. It was a hugely successful show. Recently Sean Combs launched his reality show called I Want To Work For Diddy. I think that show is also hugely successful. The people who appear on these shows do not simply want employment. They want something far more prestigious than employment. They want an up close, transferable relationship with a business mogul who seems larger than life. They want to be on television. They really want the Trump’s and Diddy’s lifestyle.
To accomplish their goal they become competitive to the point of even being cut throat. They put forth their absolutely best effort because they know that if they don’t then they will be eliminated from the talent pool. They brain storm, they tap into their creative genius, they work even when tired and completely rearrange their lives in order to be the Trump’s apprentice or work for Diddy.
All of this effort, focus and excitement makes me wonder one simple thought: What could God say or do that would make church members want to be His apprentice or work for His glory? Is it really possible to get church members to put forth their absolutely best effort just for the opportunity to service in God’s kingdom? Is it really possible to get church members to tap into their creative genius, to get them to work even if they are tired or to get them to even partially rearrange their lives in order to be an apprentice to Christ? At the heart of the question lies the hard question. Is the Trump or Diddy’s lifestyle considered more worthwhile that God’s?
As I sat quietly before the Lord I ran the tapes back from the previous conference year. I looked backwards in hopes of gaining insight into what God has in mind for the coming year. From that time of quietness I heard something in the Spirit that will be our objective for this conference year. What I heard the Spirit of God say was; “Ministry of One”. What does it mean, “Ministry of One”? Why not mega ministry? Why not manifold ministries? No, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Ministry of One”.
One is a good number in some situations like: “the Lions are number 1”. But one is not such a good number when you consider the weight of ministry. When you think of ministry you think of others who will walk alongside of you and share the load. One is an unattractive number when you consider the amount of effort it takes to do missionary work, train up children in the knowledge of God, provide music for worship or reach people for the Kingdom. One is a lonely number when you think of ministry. God, what do you mean a ministry of one and not manifold ministries? God, what do you mean a ministry of one and not a mega ministry?
Our scripture passage this morning makes clear the “Ministry of One”. Jesus, while talking with his disciples begins to talk about this concept of “Ministry of One”. He says that “…if any want to become my followers…deny themselves…take their cross daily…follow me”. If any want to be God’s apprentice, if any want to work for God than your ministry begins with you. You are the ONE. You are the one who must deny yourself. You are the one who must take your cross daily. You are the one who must follow daily. Ministry in group is only achieved when church members begin a ministry of one.
What could God do or say that would make church members have a ministry of one? A ministry where they take up the cross to first learn of the Father Son and Holy Spirit? A ministry where daily they structure their time to find out what God has planned for them? A ministry where daily they become intentional about reflecting the character of God? A ministry where daily they order their lives so that everything that is out of order is relinquished? A ministry where daily they love their family like Christ loved the church? A ministry where daily they do not provoke their children to anger? A ministry where daily they seek out those who are lost and know not of God? A ministry where daily they care for the house and things of God as good stewards?
Is it the allure of fame or fortune? Is it the hopes of living a glamorous lifestyle? Is it the hopes of wealth, exotic vacations or some other outrageous perk? One day Peter and John were walking to the temple when a lame man who was begging requested that he be given alms. The apostles answered without shame, saying silver and gold they did not have to give, but what they did have was the name of Jesus. See, God doesn’t offer silver or gold as the lure for getting His apprentices. You just have to want to become his apprentice. You must want it, but not for what you think it might profit you. You must want it without reservation and without shame.
When Jesus was talking with his disciples it sounds like an open invitation. If you want to…you can, but if you don’t want to…you can gain this whole world and profit nothing eternally. When Donald Trump and Diddy put out a casting call for contenders I can only imagine how many people responded. If it were anything like American Idol the lines were around the block. Well, God is putting out a casting call for disciples who are seeking to be His apprentice…for disciples who want to work for the Kingdom. How long will the line be?
Is there one who is willing to deny themselves? Is there one who is willing to take ministry personally? Who is the one? Who is the one willing to say that even if I must go alone, I’ll go? The marines say they look for the few the proud, well God is looking for the one, the willing.