Several years ago Pastor Rod Parsley shared an interesting story in his book. He was invited by a member of his congregation to dinner. This man was into a number of businesses and was quite successful financially. During dinner Rod Parsley noticed that the man was crying and asked what the problem was. This business man then in his 60’s, confessed that when he was younger the Lord had called him into a pastoral ministry. He had delayed and told himself that first he would pursue business and later pursue his calling. It was a mistake. Decades after that decision he was still in business, had made a lot of money but didn’t have time to pursue that calling. The man wept bitterly because he was old and didn’t have the energy he had in his youth to pursue his calling. This story made me realise that even when you are out of God’s will you can still make money. Before then I thought only believers who were serving The Lord in truth made money. But I discovered that contrary to what many preachers taught, having money in itself isn’t a sign of faithfulness to your calling neither is it a mark of spirituality.
Sadly this man’s story is not unique to him. Recently I had a conversation with a business man and I brought up the issue of his calling in life. This brother told me that he wasn’t a business person as such but he wanted to be financially independent before pursuing his calling. He admitted that he liked sharing the gospel with people but he had some bad experiences with some pastors in the past so he decided to raise his own money and use it to preach the gospel the way he wanted and how he wanted.
It all sounded spiritual but this man was in error and didn’t realise it. Was it The Lord who told him to ‘raise money for ministry’ or was it his arrogance deceiving him? There is not one single man or woman who was used by The Lord who was told to “go and raise money first, then start the ministry later.” There is no such person alive. When The Lord calls us to service, He wants us to depend entirely on him and not on our own abilities or resources to accomplish the task ahead.
This brother wanted to become rich before committing his life to whatever The Lord had called him to do. He thought that The Lord needed his money to run the ministry to which he was called. That was self deception. The Lord doesn’t need anything from us apart from our obedience and commitment to His cause. He told his disciples in Luke 10, “Go your ways:behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes:and salute no man by the way.”
Trying to gather all the money you will need before stepping out to start the ministry or business or whatever The Lord has called you to do is contrary to the principles of the kingdom. We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith demands that we move in obedience to the Lord’s direction and instructions and trust that He knows what He is doing, that He will guide, protect and provide for us as we walk in His chosen path. While waiting to gather all the money you will need before you set up a homeless shelter, an orphanage, a church or a business you may experience certain challenges which may weaken your resolve and discourage you from the pursuit of that assignment. But when you commit yourself to the Cause of Christ and ask The Lord to guide you, He will show you how to start with whatever you have in your hands, from where you are. Waiting for the perfect time to launch out could sabotage your assignment. You should commit yourself to prayer and ask The Lord to show you how to do what He called you to do.
Recently I read that a Reinhard Bonnke crusade in Nigeria costs about one million dollars to organise. Do you know how many crusades Bonnke has organised since he started ministry? Do you know how much he has spent in over three decades in the pursuit of his calling? What would have happened if he decided to ‘raise the money and become financially independent’ before obeying The Lord? He would never have started his ministry. He would have still been busy raising money or he would have been distracted and seduced by other better looking opportunities. You must understand that when The Lord calls you to ministry He also raises people around you to be helpers and allies with you on your journey. We are never called to fulfil our calling alone.
Let me be clear on this. You should be in business or pursue a career because it is your assignment in the body of Christ. You should seek the Lord in prayer and get some clarity on what exactly He wants you to do with your life, then dedicate yourself to fulfil that assignment. You shouldn’t be in business because you want to make lots of money before you start your ministry. I have known a few people who were so deceived and none of them ever made it to start a ministry. Even those who managed to jumble ministry with a big business or high level career never amounted to anything significant in the kingdom because they never had a clear focus of what they wanted to do with their lives. After a while the pursuit of money took over their zeal for God. They decided to become ‘sponsors of the gospel’, and give the church handouts as if The Lord was broke and needed their money to bail him out of his financial predicament.
The Lord doesn’t need our handouts, He doesn’t need sponsors of the gospel, He doesn’t need sponsors of churches or ministries. He wants men and women who are dedicated to the Cause of the Cross of Christ. He wants men and women who will deny themselves, carry their cross and follow Him on His own terms. Every man and woman calling themselves ‘sponsors of the gospel’ should realise that The Lord has organised and ran the affairs of the kingdom for thousands of years before they were born and will continue to do so after they are gone. We should realise that The Lord can raise anybody to do His Will. He can raise the poor from the dunghill and turn him or her into a millionaire so that the kingdom agenda can move forward. He can cause an angel to move a sinner to give to a church or ministry so that the gospel of the kingdom can be preached.
If you have been thinking that “I will make lots of money and sponsor the gospel”, now is a good time to let go of that idea, get on your knees before the Lord, humble yourself and repent of your pride. And you may also consider the fact that if you never gave another dollar to the work of the kingdom it will move on as if you never existed. This should keep you sober and humble. The Lord doesn’t need our money, he wants to have our very soul sold out to Him and the kingdom.
In Mark chapter 10:17, a man ran to Jesus asking to follow him as a disciple. Jesus asked him a question about keeping the commandments and the young man answered that he had kept all the commandments from his youth. Jesus looked at him and loved him. Then Jesus revealed to the young man the truth about the state of his heart. He asked him to give up his money to charity, carry his cross and follow Him. At that point, the truth of that young man’s heart manifested itself. The bible says he went away sad because he had great possessions.
You see, Jesus saw through the man’s false piety and empty religious zeal. He could see that the young man wasn’t controlling his money. It was his money controlling him. This man was busy pursuing the will, plan and purpose of money, not the will of God. His money controlled every decision he made and every step he took. He felt because he was rich he could dictate to The Lord how he wanted to serve him but he was rebuked by The Lord. We can either serve the will of money or choose to serve the will of God in our generation. We can’t do both. We should understand that having money doesn’t make us special in any way, doesn’t give us any special rights, neither does it give us any special privileges with God. The rich amongst us are just like every other believer in Christ. Pastors should stop lying to their rich members, telling them they are special thereby setting a trap of pride for them. We all should remember that pride always leads to a huge fall. Pastors should not give spiritual babies and neophytes spiritual responsibilities in the church because they are rich. Being rich is not synonymous with spiritual maturity. Some may be rich but without character and spiritual depth they are in no position to teach other believers.
When we come to Christ, we should nail everything to His cross: who we are, what we have achieved, what we possess and leave it all there. We cannot decide to use our money to do whatever we like in the body of Christ thinking that it will please The Lord. No, it will not please Him. What pleases The Lord, what totally impresses Him is our commitment to His cause and obedience to do His Will, no matter the cost.