How would someone, called to be an apostle, prepare for that ministry? Is there training for apostolic ministry? Where would you go? What might that training or preparation include? Most of those who have that calling, assignment, office, have had to receive their preparation by means other than traditional schooling or ministries.
Please understand, it is difficult to speak of the things that follow. I feel like Paul when he said you’ve forced me to talk like a fool. No one desires to put oneself forward, yet in order to be a blessing to others, we must share what God is doing in our lives. We overcome the enemy by the word of our testimony. I cannot speak for all apostles, so I will testify to my own preparation in a sincere desire to assist someone who may be as baffled as I was.
First, apostolic ministry is not our choice but Christ’s. He sends. No one can choose to be an apostle. Jesus calls and sends. We either go or we don’t. From my conversion experience through my most recent ministry, all has been initiated by Jesus. My role is to respond to his calling and sending. From the time He spoke my name on Christmas day, 1976, He has been revealing His purposes and shaping my character–purging what is in me that hinders his honor. As I’ve responded in obedience (and that has never been perfect), I have been entrusted with more. And often I have not deserved to be sent by Him or to have seen the marvelous things I’ve witnessed. I can truly say it is all of Him. I would not have chosen this path. But I would not want to be on any other. He must become more and more . . . And we must go where He leads. Of course, others must confirm that call. Others will recognize, probably before you will, that you are called to the greater body of Christ. And your going and serving will have results. People will know that you have authority to bless and encourage, to comfort and challenge. Sometimes displays of gifts accompany assignments. These also “testify” to your assignment or ministry in any given place, at His appointed time.
Second, apostles share a deep passion for the Father, and the Kingdom. The apostle Paul said, “The love of God constrains me.” He was pushed, pulled , drawn on, and compelled by love of the Father and Jesus. And for love of those who are loved by God–his people. More about this apostolic passion in my next book.
Third, God has prepared us:
REJECTION. We have known rejection. We have had to fight through feelings of inadequacy and abandonment. My life before Christ has been one of rejection and continues to be in some sense even today; I experience rejection but from a different angle than when I was a child. The Lord has taught me not to take ministry rejection personally. Don’t get me wrong–it’s still difficult. But it’s not about me. I need only to be obedient and speak what I’m given. Faithfulness is all that’s required of me once I’ve heard and understood.
IDENTITY. We know who God says we really are. We are sons. We have found our identity in Him. Though I am the least among his many living apostles, I know that I am a son and have His authority on my life. I don’t always know how to walk in that and am learning more daily, but Jesus continually presents his own calling–his death and resurrection–in my life. I know that I am walking into His plan and purpose. I also know that difficulty awaits. But so does unimaginable blessing and fruit. I have many promises of God that I am waiting to see unfold. And they will.
KNOWLEDGE. We are learning and are living out what the Father is teaching. We are no longer on milk, laying over and over the same foundations; we have learned the teaching about righteousness (Heb 5.13-6.1). Now we are called to go from sincere love to deep love (1 Pt. 1.22 NIV). We have also prepared ourselves with study of the Word of God. Some of us have studied formally and others informally. Some have done both. But God has taught us. And we know that what makes us most effective is hearing first for ourselves. Being not only hearers, but doers of the Word. Then hearing what “the Spirit is ‘saying’ to the church.”
CHARACTER. We are being shaped by His hands. He is forming vessels of honor (to give honor and bring honor to Him). But the job description is not one that flocks sign up for. When I sought the Lord, asking Him how I could prepare, the Holy Spirit took me to meditate on and abide in 1 Cor. 4.9-21. Take time to immerse yourself in this text before you glamorize apostolic ministry. That said, there is nothing I know as thrilling as being sent on assignment. Whether that be to the local store or to a church gathering several states away or to the Republic of Georgia (I was sent there immediately following the Russian incursion into Georgia with a specific assignment to a specific man, with specific words. When I arrived, he was an atheist, today he is a precious brother in Christ. Dearer to me than flesh and blood brother. His conversion, while I stayed at his home, transformed not only his life and his family, but mine as well. His church and the market where he works was also impacted for Christ). God has a special call and assignment on his life too. Just as he has in yours.
These are some of the preparations I have experienced. I share more about the authority of apostles in my book, We’re the “sons of God” . . . So What?–available at Amazon.com.
Why not participate in a discussion. Leave a comment. Let us know if this post helps you or if you have something that can help someone prepare for apostolic ministry.
©2011, Dr. David C Alves