Theology Thursday: Becoming a Worker Approved by God

By Jeff McAffee, Faculty

Student Becoming a Worker Approved by God by receiving Bible

I haven’t always been a Christian. My life BC (Before Christ) was pretty rough: wrong people, wrong places, wrong things, wrong everything. At my lowest point I was found dead, literally, from merciless strongholds. I survived, but walked away with the limps of an impoverished self-worth and no prospects for the future. Then came Jesus and a call to ministry. Wow, this was great, but was I really up for this? What about my ontological bankruptcy? What about the absence of nice suits, high intellectualism, success, and respect from others? I can’t seriously go into ministry without these things, right? Wrong. Approval as workers for God looks very different. God’s faith in you is found in your trustworthiness, your brokenness and your willingness to leave it all behind. Offer these things to God.

Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places

I spent decades seeking validation from people, even in ministry. This was a big mistake; true validation comes only from God. Are you seeking approval from people or organizations? You’re looking in the wrong places. Approval as a worker for ministry is normally measured through questions like, “What’s your education?,” “What’s your experience?” and “Do you have credentials?” I fell victim to these questions and sought and achieved the highest levels of each. I found out the hard way that God cares about different things.

Can I Trust You?

When God does the interviewing for ministry, His questions sound like, “Can I trust you?,” “Do you need Me?” and “Are you all in?” Being prepared to be approved as a worker begins with trust. God’s confidence in you is not measured through education, credentials or experience. Trust is measured through character. Abraham proves this point. What was his education, credentials and experience? Not much. He was a sinner who worshiped other gods, living in an idolatrous nation (Joshua 24:2). What’s so amazing about that? Here’s what we know. First, Abraham listened to God and accepted his call (Genesis 12). He listened. Are you listening? Second, Abraham obeyed. God said, “Go to a place I will show you.” Abraham didn’t even know where he was going. Can God trust you with this kind of a call? Would you obey? If you are a person God can trust, you’re a person who has the character to listen and obey.

Do You Need Me?

What about need for God? Why is this a qualification for ministry? Isn’t this obvious? Not always. The temptation to ratchet up on education, experience and credentials is very alluring. We get so impressed with our own abilities that need for God goes out the window. And this is where we become disqualified for ministry. All that effort for nothing. Try this: find any person in the Bible that God used in a significant way and dig up their past. What are you going to find? You’ll find brokenness, humiliation, shame, etc. These are the kind of people that need God. It’s that need for God that He used in their lives to accomplish His goal, and it is that need God can use in your life, too. Your best ministry flows out of your brokenness and your need for God, not out of your giftedness and your amazing self-accomplishments.

Are You All In?

Would you marry someone who vowed to love you with only half of their heart? I’m sure you wouldn’t. Yet, many who feel called to ministry agonize over the smallness of their ministry while others with less education, credentials or experience are flourishing. Why does stuff like this happen? There could be many reasons why some ministries flourish while others flounder, but one thing we know for sure is that those whom God approves are ones who were willing to go all in. Abraham left everything. The disciples left everything. Are you all in? Or have you given God only half of your heart and are wondering why you’re floundering?

Education, experience and credentials, are all important, but they will never earn God’s approval. God’s confidence in you is found in your trustworthiness, your brokenness and your willingness to leave it all behind. Offer these things to God.

Read more theology and ministry blogs and learn about degree programs offered by GCU's College of Theology today. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.