A professional is the citizen of a corporation, not the citizen of a family, as it appears to me.
So what do I mean by professional Christianity? It's like, “If you really are called by God, you should be ministering for a living, right?” After all, significant spiritual contribution is reserved for those who are professionals, aka those who are “in the ministry.”
I'm no historian, but I think this sentiment may flow from deep in history, so far back that it never needs to be said, but is always understood, and never questioned.
Jesus was a pro, wasn't He?
No, I don't believe that He was (is), or that His power flowed from the corporation, or any form of human consent, for that matter. Jesus held no position and this “professional” mindset is not a fruit of the Spirit or an evidence of proper evolution. Those in power in Jesus's day were actually one force of opposition against Him.
@thomaskempis: “Where can a man be found who desires to serve God for nothing?” Good question Tommy. When were you on the Earth again?
In my last several years working with young adults, I have began to wonder, in earnest, why the Church tries to make professional ministry the target of life. I mean, as an occupation. I have worked in ministry schools just to find that ambition was primarily what was imparted, and that less than 5% went on to serve in “paying positions.” The percentage that were left worse off for the whole experience was far higher. Empty and unfulfilled expectations created, and no one around willing to acknowledge their responsibility.
This professional ministry preoccupation is destructive, for at least a few reasons that I come quickly to mind.
1. It conceals responsibility, making believers who are not “ordained” or “on staff” feel that they don't have direct spiritual responsibility
2. It has created some sort of special class of Christian – not really -of those who are staffers / ordained / in ministry – giving status and/or position, which do not convey spiritual power. Many who are in position are void of the authentic.
It has been common, in the last decade, to hear people say that “we are ALL called by God” – which is true, according to scripture. But WE live on without integrating this calling into our reality. This type of knowledge – knowing we are all called- is meant to be used to change things from the way that they are more in the direction of the way God intends them. To have the knowledge and not to live by it is simply not good enough because it betrays the intent of the revelation! Clearly, though we are all called, we will not all be getting paid by the Church. What then does it mean to be called by God? What should it mean?
What if “the ministry” in our times is equivalent to “the priesthood” in Martin Luther's time? Just asking….
Valid spiritual authority doesn't come from men, it comes from God. Men may recognize it and give their “amens”, but if God doesn't give it, it will not be had. When will God become our preoccupation, instead of our grope for the recognition of men because we are deeply insecure? ENOUGH!
As Christians, we are individually responsible to seek, find, and follow the will of God for our lives. This is what each of us will answer for. There are no exceptions and no excuses will be valid. Unfortunately, almost no one lives like this. I believe that this preoccupation with “professional Christianity” is a part of the problem, and a major impediment to seeing this corrected. Why? Because it paints a false target.
God is big enough for your sense of identity to safely rest in Him.
I don't mean to suggest that every person who is in ministry, and those who get compensated for their service, are examples of this folly. The Bible makes room for such things when it says that the elder who rules well is worthy of double honor (which can be translated fitting compensation). However, the Bible does not communicate that believers are substandard or less serious if they are not “men of the cloth.”
The Church as a business and it's ministers as professionals is clearly not the answer, and is part of the problem. It is a by-product of our culture, and a false guide.
The “whole family in heaven and Earth” are one family, not one corporation. Can you see my meaning?