I’ve been in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 7 years now. We have regular Field Appraisal Reports in this job. FARs are when the supervisor evaluates my performances and me as an employee. I look forward to these evaluations because they are a good way of seeing myself from a higher perspective.
Years ago, a supervisor sat down with me over coffee and sited how good I have been in hitting my sales targets. Of course, I was expecting perhaps a slight congratulations or pat in the back, human as I am. I was surprised to hear his words that followed. It went something like this:
“You must be expecting praise and a pat on the back for your work. Well, I’m so sorry, but I won’t give it to you. All that you’ve done and achieved is the company’s expectations. You were expected to hit these targets, it was your job— your responsibility. There is nothing spectacular about this. It takes more than this to deserve a commendation. I’m so sorry…”
I’m not sure if this is a sound coaching or management technique. I think he was trying to motivate me by making me see that I am mediocre despite my best efforts . I did get motivated after that, but not by him. After that day, I understood why it is important to work and aim for excellence, not for the approval of men, not for trophies, but to do so for my God who is my constant companion. I realized that if I kept trying to please my human supervisors who do not see my struggles in the area, who do not really know who I am inside, who are flawed just like me— then I am in for a roller coaster ride and I would be robbed of my joy in life.
But then, this supervisor’s approach in handling my evaluation, has its merits. What he said had truth in it. I think, if I was in his shoes, I would’ve used better words that encouraged and built up. But I gotta hand it to him, he was telling the truth. I was only doing what was expected of me.
That was a big learning experience for me. But this brings to my mind also a misconception among followers of Christ.
But before that, let me share quickly a little bit of me. I have a very unique life. Despite of a generally negative public perception of my job, I’m an active Christian. I’m not content only with personal prayers, attending church on Sundays, and tithing. I serve the Lord whenever I can. When my pastor needs me to help, if the task is aligned with God’s gifts to me, I help with a passion. I’m good with words, so the help I extend to my church often is sharing my faith through speaking. So, sometimes I encourage the church to give. And sometimes, when requested, I deliver the Lord’s message on the pulpit too.
Apart from church, I share my faith with any seeker that the Lord sends my way (in the field or on the internet). Among my colleagues, I make sure that they know my faith without forcing my theology on them.
Last year, I also decided to make my writings on life, faith and God public through this blog. I’m trying hard as well to finish a novel that I’m doing for Him, though I’m encountering wall after wall due to the busyness of my current job.
I then watch my deeds and words as much as I can because I think that’s the Christian’s most effective recruitment tool: his goodness (aside from doing it out of gratitude and love for God). Besides, once a person professes to be a genuine Christian, he or she will be on everyone’s watch list 24/7—- waiting for him or her to fall.
Seeing and hearing all this, people would often ask me: “You sound like you’re going to be a Pastor. Why don’t you become one? I think you’re on your way there…”
This is a great, pleasing compliment for me, by the way. I think being a full-time servant of God is a great honor and privilege, but only if one has discerned without a doubt that God is calling him or her. There isn’t a month that passes by that I ask the Lord the same questions. And always, He tells me— through prayers and introspection, through meditation on Scripture, through affirmations by the authorities He’s sent me, and through the situations in my life that He crafts— He tells me to stay where I am, for now, despite of the struggles.
Now here’s my point: Why do we think that sharing our faith through our gifts and talents is reserved for pastors only? Why do we associate reading the Bible and mastering exegesis (proper, objective interpretation of Scripture) to be a pastor’s task only? Why do we think that suffering for the gospel and being ridiculed for Christ is only for full-time servants of God? Aren’t all these only what is expected of a Christian? As far as the Bible is concerned, God’s answer is: Yes, they are.
When someone becomes a Christian, he or she is called to belong to, and to be set apart for, God. The Christian, whether new or a veteran believer, need not be reminded to seek ways to serve the Savior out of overflowing love and gratitude. I think the mark of a person who has genuinely received Christ in his or her soul is the urgent and passionate desire to meditate on the Bible, to battle sin, to be a functioning part of a church, to share the faith, to proclaim to his or her corner of the world that Jesus is God, Savior and Redeemer.
All that is only what is expected of a Christian and are not grounds to be a pastor at all. Being a pastor or full-time servant is an entirely different and much higher calling.
Let me end this article with these realizations…
If you’ve been going around telling everyone that you’re a Christian and you haven’t done none of the above acts recently, then you’re falling behind expectations, friend. But help is just a prayer away. The Lord turns away no one who seeks Him truly, no matter what his or her past is. This Holy Week is a good chance to unplug and see what’s going on inside you. Don’t let it pass by without being still and knowing your God and His plans for you.
On the other hand, if you’re considering to be a full-time servant just because of the acts I’ve mentioned, think again and pray. And after that, think and pray some more. Subject yourself to spiritual mentoring with your church.
The world is filled with spiritual leaders who are regretful and/or powerless. Their actions betray them. Let’s not add to their numbers.
A year doesn’t pass by that I don’t hear stories of pastors or priests or ministers giving up the leadership, or molesting a child, committing acts of lasciviousness, womanizing, alcoholism, stealing funds, power-playing, intentionally forgetting to pay debts, tolerating sin in the church, manipulating their flock, neglecting Scripture, basking in avarice and more…
Sibling in the Lord, don’t think too highly of yourself when all you’ve done is just what’s expected of you. None of us need to be in the spotlight to serve Him. Be content and joyful to be among believers worldwide who serve the Lord.
But if you are indeed called to be a pastor, then let no one stop you from pursuing an even higher calling. Great blessings await you.
As for those of us in the marketplace, proclaiming the Name of Jesus from the mountain tops, lets keep going. Don’t let the scoffers silence us. Let’s faithfully do what the Master expects of us. Let Him worry about all else. Let’s do more for our Redeemer. Let’s aim for excellence, shining His light wherever we are. Let’s be hands and feet of blessings to His chosen leaders and authorities.
This is where our joy truly lies.