I know a man (2 Cor. 12:2) who shares about his time of ministry in “Asia” – working in a capital city of the hinterlands. He reports about that work in the story that follows.
A few years ago I was helping build about 20 young leaders in a secret training center. Senior leaders were also present, and together we were examining lessons learned from the life of Paul.
We looked at the various individuals who were a significant influence on his life. Foremost among these would be Barnabas, as well as Stephen. We also considered the person who was there to initially welcome Paul to the family of faith, that “certain disciple named Ananias”
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Here am I, Lord,” he answered. (Acts 9:10)
We began to recall the several others in Scripture who responded to the Lord when He called them by name – Abraham (Gen. 22:1, 11); Jacob (Gen. 32:11; 46:2); Moses (Ex. 3:4); Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1-10) and Isaiah (Isa. 6:1-8).
The Spirit of God was moving on the hearts of these young people, many of whom were committed to obeying the call of God to take the Gospel to unreached people groups within their country. So I began to emphasize the need to be obedient and follow Him wherever He might lead us.
At that point I encouraged the young leaders to get in groups of three and do three things:
- One by one, look each other in the eyes and call one another by name.
- Then, prayerfully look to heaven, and say “Here am I, Lord.”
- After that, affirm one another in prayer.
After half an hour they were still going at it! I wondered what could be taking so long. Apparently they had decided to share this profound exercise with everyone else in the room, not just in the groups of three that I had suggested. Everyone was animated and excitedly embracing and sharing their confidence that God held their future in His wise hands – except for one brother.
I noticed that one of the brothers was standing off by himself, not laughing and rejoicing with the others. Instead he was silently weeping, with tears running down his cheeks. We went to him and asked why.
He admitted to everyone, “I don’t want to say ‘Here am I!’ I don’t want to go on the mission field. I just want to be a hairdresser. My business is thriving with eight chairs and many employees.”
Most of the young leaders were shocked at such apparent defiance, that one of their fellow-workers would not yield to God to be in “full-time Christian service.” It felt as if they were almost ready to kick him out of their group!
But I was in tears. Based on what I had been observing in the life of this brother that week, I knew that he had already said, “Here am I.” I had seen his heart of service and devotion to the rest of the group of participants in the training. And so I shared this with him, and the group.
I told him, “Do not be ashamed; be courageous! Don’t you see? You have already said ‘Here am I.’ You are already serving sacrificially with this group. You are also obeying God’s call to serve Him in the work-world. You are willing to lay aside the recognition of being a highly esteemed saint in the Church. You are willing to simply be a servant in the local church and to let God’s light shine in your business.”
Then I explained to the whole group about the biblical truths of the calling of God and vocation. God will use you where you are, as long as you put yourself in His hands, and give all that you are to His kingdom (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 12:1-2). The lights began to go on in the young man’s heart and it showed in his countenance.
Then the young hairdresser began to say, “I have a business with eight chairs and I give work to many people in my church, and the unbelievers who work for me see the light of God in us every day, and the customers from the world know that we are different.”
Then he paused. Next thing you know, he was jumping up and down with his hands in the air, yelling, “Here am I, Here am I, Here am I!”
It was a profound moment for the rest of the young leaders as the wheels were turning in their heads. But soon they gathered around, affirming him and praying for him in his calling from God.
Then they began to pray for everyone in their circles and in their churches, that all would give themselves to God wholeheartedly in whatever calling He had for them as God’s chosen people.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience . . . . Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:12, 15, 17, 23-24)
Then the young hairdresser gave everyone a hug. In the mood of fellowship and friendship, no one noticed when he left the room. Later during lunch, I asked where he had gone. No one seemed to know for sure.
Just as lunch was ending, he returned with a big fresh and fruity birthday cake adorned with neatly fanned strawberry slivers and mango slices. Already he was paying attention to his calling. He didn’t want anyone to forget the birthday of one of the young participants.
God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped [served] His people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)
Later that week I was stealthily taken to his hair salon where I received his ministry in a much needed haircut and beard-trim.
Pause and Reflect: How are you doing at encouraging those you lead to see the importance of their calling in the work and business world? Think of five individuals you need to encourage – and not just the high and lofty. Make a point of affirming them, and sharing with them that God will not forget their work and labor in the Lord.