While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. (Acts 13:2-4)
When considering any ministry opportunity, every believer should ask: Am I sent out or simply going?
Having parents who were missionaries, I often heard an interesting adage: “Momma called and Daddy sent.” It referred to parents wanting their children to follow their footsteps into Christian service. However, God’s gifts and calling for each person are as specifically unique as fingerprints.
Sure, it would be a blessing to see children following their parents into Christian ministry of some sort. However, there is a vast difference between following your own vision and being called and sent by God’s Holy Spirit.
Yes, we all have the Great Commission command: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). However, we often overlook what else Jesus told His followers. Before doing anything or going anywhere, He told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised … in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). It was only after they received the power of the Holy Spirit that they could be “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The challenge: to wait.
But we’re not very good at waiting, are we?
And yet, Scripture is filled with instructions to wait. To wait on God. To await His empowering, His timing, His purpose. Ironically, there are no calls to rush on ahead or to become impatient — no, not even with the visions or callings God may give us.
I know from personal experience that going or attempting something in my own strength — even if it happens at the precise moment God gives me a vision of some service for Him — is never a wise strategy. Going in my own strength or on my schedule is when I get impatient, frustrated and burned out — when I begin to question God’s call on my life.
However, when I wait on Him, trusting His guidance and timing, learning what I need to know, partnering with those He brings along my path, and sensing His empowering presence, that is when He is the most effective witness through me.
The disciples waited for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and it came in blazing glory. It fanned the flames of faith that burn to this day. Comparing that to my feeble, self-directed attempts to do something for God helps me understand the value of waiting for His calling, His anointing, His power and His sending.
Who He calls, He gifts, anoints and empowers.
He won’t call me to do something for which he has not gifted me.
As a personal example, I’ve always loved singing Gospel music. There was even a time when I dreamed of creating a singing group and hitting the road. Actually, it runs in my blood, as my grandfather was an evangelist who toured with his family, singing and playing instruments at his meetings. Although I may be able to carry a tune, and some people may enjoy my singing, it is not my gifting. To run ahead with that dream would have been time-consuming, frustrating and, ultimately, poor stewardship of the talents God has given me. Even worse, it would detract time and attention from what God truly purposed for my life — an intense passion for His Word and the ability to write and speak about it.
Rather than going in my own strength or rushing ahead of God’s timing, I’m learning to wait for His anointing and blessing. Instead of anxiously or competitively going out to “win the world for Christ,” I do far better by being where He wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do, when He sends me to do it. And I gain God’s blessing and favor.
So, are you going in your own strength, or is God sending you?