By Guthrie Veech
Olin Hay preached at South Louisville Christian Church near the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He loved football. Periodically, he would leave the office early to watch the Cardinals’ football practice.
One day a freshman quarterback rushed the ball down the muddy field only to be tackled by a huge linebacker. The quarterback stood up, covered in mud from head to toe, and said to Hay, “You gotta love the game, gotta love the game.”
The freshman quarterback’s name was Johnny Unitas, who became perhaps the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
That story reminds me of my calling. As a minister, “You gotta love the game.”
The context of ministry demands a great love for Christ’s church. That is what keeps me going day after day in ministry. Sometimes the pressure is seemingly unbearable. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul explains, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” As a follower of Christ, I love the church. That is the heart of my calling.
The context of ministry demands we encourage each other. Not only do I love the church, but I want to encourage fellow Christians every day to follow Christ.
An often overlooked Scripture is Hebrews 3:13, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
A Christian’s witness begins by saying a good word about Christ and his church. When you say enough good words about Jesus and the church, people begin to listen to the gospel.
I don’t understand the critical voices from Christians attacking other Christians and Christ’s church. Those deceitful voices harden people’s hearts; no wonder fewer and fewer desire to follow Christ. “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15).
If Christ loved the church enough to die for her, the least I can do is encourage others to follow him. My call to ministry demands that I encourage as many people as possible “Today” to follow Christ. Encouragement provides strength for my calling.
The context of ministry demands we focus on the lost. Jesus in his Great Commission challenges us to go, make disciples, and baptize them. Lost people are everywhere. Those lost people matter as much to God as the most active church member. Christ’s call on our lives leads us to find lost people and lead them to know the Savior. What matters to God must matter to us.
About 35 years ago I ministered at a little church in Memphis, Tennessee. A few weeks ago I returned to Memphis to preach at a banquet to honor area ministers. Some people baptized when I preached at that church so long ago attended that banquet. Today they are involved in ministry in Memphis. I thank God for the church that cares about lost people. The lost are the motivation for my calling.
The context of ministry demands we use our giftedness to praise God. Rachel Howard was an elderly member of a church I served in Indiana. Her son, Maurice, became a minister. Maurice and Doris Howard had a son, Sam. Maurice and Sam had a great influence on the life of Rich Mullins.
Today we sing that our God is an awesome God. Thank you for faithful Christians who regularly use their giftedness to praise God. My call is to praise God in all things.
Just today, someone reminded me that no patient likes to undergo chemotherapy. In the short term, it usually makes you feel worse. But after undergoing the treatment, many people get to the other side and say thank-you to God for chemotherapy’s healing power. Praise is the outgrowth of my calling.
Eugene Peterson described the context of Christian ministry as a long obedience in the same direction. The call to ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. So day by day, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). That is our calling.
Dr. Guthrie Veech serves as president of St. Louis (Missouri) Christian College.