Focus On Your Purpose
Rev. Marvin Yoder loves to help others successfully fulfill God’s will for their lives, and he is thrilled when he can help people “hit a home run” in accomplishing exactly that! Marvin has rejoined the Rhema Bible Church staff as an associate pastor and the Rhema Bible Training College faculty as an instructor.
Prior to returning to Rhema, he planted and pastored several churches in Illinois. Before planting those churches, Marvin served for nine years in various positions at Rhema, including as dean of Rhema Bible Training College. Marvin graduated from the school in 1984 and has traveled extensively, both nationally and internationally, as an itinerant minister. He has also authored several books and study guides.
In his free time Marvin loves to write, go treasuring hunting, and play golf. He also enjoys taking back-road vacations with his wife, Leah. They have three children: Christina Ann, Nichole Joy, and Audrey Danielle.
This article has been adapted from The Traveling Minister’s Handbook by Marvin Yoder. Copies of this book may be obtained here. Several years ago I enrolled in an online personal growth program. One of the things I had to do in that program was to state in one sentence what my life was about, and it had to include what I do on a daily basis. It took some time and some soul searching for me to write a sentence that described my purpose in life and in which I was involved in every day. This became a catalyst for me to clearly and concisely operate in the purpose for my ministry.
Many people, even some ministers, cannot describe what their purpose is in life. Many of those who know their purpose in life can’t articulate in one sentence what their life is about. This hinders them from knowing their purpose in ministry as well. Consequently it is easy for them to get involved in things that are outside what God has created and gifted them to do. Furthermore, if a minister cannot clearly articulate the purpose of their ministry, it hinders people in following their vision and limits what is corporately accomplished.
Jesus and the apostle Paul knew their life and ministry purpose and were able to articulate it clearly and concisely to those around them. These two individuals were undoubtedly the two most successful and influential people in all of Christianity. They are living proof that taking time to determine your purpose in life and ministry is necessary in order to be a successful minister.
Why Are You in the Ministry?
Some people are in the ministry because of desire. Others are in ministry for the money. Still others are in the ministry to build a name for themselves and are pursuing fame and recognition. Finally, some people try the ministry because they don’t know what else to do.
The Apostle Paul said that Christ is preached for many reasons—indicating that it is people are in ministry for both the right reasons as well as the wrong reasons.
Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
Your motives are more important than your actions. Why you do something is more important than what you do. The value of what you do is determined by why you are doing it. So knowing your purpose in ministry will help you to have the right motives.
The Original Word from God Often Reveals Our Purpose
Seasons in our lives and ministries may change, and the emphasis of your message may shift, but certain aspects of your original call will never be outgrown. In Paul’s life we can see that he went through various seasons, the emphasis of his ministry changed, and even the ministry offices that he functioned in changed. But all of the changes were necessary so that Paul could fulfill his purpose which was revealed in the original word God spoke to him.
Often there is a natural assignment or method God wants us to use in fulfilling a spiritual purpose. Your calling and purpose will determine the methods you are to use and what kind of anointing God will give you. For example, God may tell you to start singing gospel music. But, what He really wants is the fruit that will come when people are exposed to the words and the anointing by which you sing.
God Has Various Purposes for Different Individuals
Jesus had a purpose for manifesting in the flesh and in going to Calvary. He corrected His disciples by reminding them of His purpose for coming into the Earth.
Luke 9: 56
For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.
Later the Apostle John wrote a similar statement in one of his epistles concerning Jesus’ purpose for manifesting in the flesh on earth.
1 John 3:8
…for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Paul knew the purpose to which he was called. God originally spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road, and his whole ministry after that reflected those words. Years later when he told his Damascus Road experience with God to King Agrippa, he repeated his purpose in ministry by stating what God had told him that day.
But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.
In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul wrote “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He said that he had fulfilled the purpose God had called him to. Notice that Paul did not attempt to complete someone else’s purpose in life—he concentrated on God’s purpose for his own life.
Don’t Compare Yourself With Others
Whatever your purpose, realize that God has appointed you to do it. Do not compare yourself with others who may not be in ministry for the same purpose. Do what God tells you to do and you will fulfill your purpose in ministry.
You do not have to answer to God for another person’s calling and purpose. But you do have to give an account concerning what you did with God’s call and purpose for your life and ministry. God has given you a certain race to run, and no one else can run it for you, nor can you run someone else’s course.
Because people have different callings and purposes that God has given to them, it is not wise to compare yourself with anyone else. If you’re going to compare yourself with something, evaluate yourself in the light of God’s call and purpose on your life.
2 Corinthians 10:12
For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
As you develop in ministry, you will probably notice that God seems to use you in certain areas more than in other areas. That is another reason why you should avoid comparing yourself with other ministers. Stay with the area that God uses you in the best—that is an indicator of the purpose God has for your ministry.
When you operate in your purpose for your life and ministry, you will find a sense of fulfillment, the thrill of achieving what God has assigned to you to do, and your greatest level of success.