I’ve been taught that we should each find our own calling fulfilled within the greater calling of a local church family or community. I don’t disagree with that—if we’re speaking of hypothetical ideals. But, there are three key issues that often prevent fulfilling your calling within the local church from being possible.
Too often, leaders feel threatened by the presence of other leaders, or they feel the need to compete with them in order to reinforce their own position or stature. This is especially true when those other leaders are already strong or developed. I’ve seen this play out time and time again, and I’ve been on the receiving end it myself. I’ve seen people with a true calling and a strong leadership gift on their life become targeted, minimized, restrained, and sidelined… often with plausible reason. But, just as often, the real reason was because the established leader felt insecure, because they have been burned by others in similar situations before, or because they have burned other leaders themselves. It is truly sad that there has been so much cause for distrust within the church.
Jesus never promoted or served the calling or vision of any local church. Of course, I understand that the Church was birthed after his death and resurrection; but stating it this way makes a stronger point. And let me also make it clear that I love the local church! The focus of my passion and calling is to equip the body of Christ—to serve the Church. But Jesus preached a message of the Kingdom, not of the local church, and He commanded us to do the same. We have all been commissioned as heralds of the good news of the Kingdom and released as ambassadors of Christ, God making His appeal through us. Therefore, that is the greater purpose which the local church must remain aligned with as well.
Like Christ, some are called and chosen to serve the body of Christ on a scale that is larger than one local church. That, of course, does involve serving local churches, but in various ways, and often from the outside inward. It is impossible for them to fulfill their true calling if they are extensively contained by the ceiling or vision of one local church—they are meant to raise the ceiling and the increase the vision.
Others are moved by God to minister outside of the “four walls.” They often feel more in their element when they are with the downcast, the broken, the addicted, the hurting, the “least of these.” And unfortunately, there is often no outlet for them to fulfill that ministry from within many local churches.
So what’s the remedy?
- First, come to grips with the fact that you can only change what you love and take responsibility for.
- Second, understand that you will only be able to fulfill your calling within a local church to the degree that your local church allows you the freedom to fulfill your calling and serve the greater purpose of the Kingdom.
- Third, realize that God does assign some people to different places in different seasons for different reasons.
But most of all, remember that we are each responsible to walk out our own convictions before God. You must fulfill your calling whether you’ve found a local church that allows for it and encourages it, or not. If you live by the Spirit, you must also walk by the Spirit. You must follow the leading of God above all else. In other words, you must be you. Whether we all realize it or not, the whole body of Christ needs you to become who you are.
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for eighteen years, and is the proud father of two boys.