For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his generation, fell asleep…(Acts 13:36)
Not too long ago, a young girl was suffering through her first night working at the pizza delivery store where I work. She was nervous and self-conscious. And worst of all, it was Friday night. We were busy!
My manager brought her to me. “Just listen to Larry on the phone and do it the same way,” said the manager to the girl. Then, the manager left.
The phone rang; I picked it up. I greeted the customer, introduced myself and entered the name on a computer. Then I added, “So, where have you been, we’ve been waiting all evening for your phone call? What’s your excuse?”
I continued throughout the whole phone order in this light-hearted banter. When I finished, I looked at the young girl. She broke down crying. “I can’t be like you. That’s not me.”
And of course, she was right. She needed to be herself.
This experience illustrates a major problem with us American believers, and probably most western ones. Christianity desires standardization. We want cookie-cutter callings, stamped and approved by some well-respected college, Bible school or mentor.
Wait a second! I’m not against all Bible schools or mentors, okay? Just maybe 90% of them; but at least, this allows some leeway in my thinking.
“Why?” you shout.
“Good question,” I reply.
Who mentored Charles Finney, William Booth, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Evan Roberts, Billy Sunday, William Seymour, John Lake, Aimee Semple McPherson, Smith Wigglesworth, Jack Coe, Kathryn Kuhlman and hundreds of other pioneers? No one! Each sought the Lord and brought forth a special uniqueness, unlike any other, for his or her generation.
To be honest, our generation does not need another Finney, Booth, Etter, Roberts, Sunday and so forth. Not at all. We need callings of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher who are totally new and will reflect what Jesus wants done in our age.
And this can not be carried out by standardized, cookie-cutter methods where one size fits all. It must be unique for each person, guided by the Lord and suited to the uniqueness of the individual.
My personal beliefs on training people for their callings is much like General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army:
Here’s a Bible. There’s a place on the floor over there where you can pray. Tomorrow morning, you will be out on the streets ministering and preaching to people.
Would people make mistakes under my system? Yes; maybe lots of them. But all the problems can be talked out over supper at the end of the day.
Oh! And by the way, this is the way the early Christians did it. They called it church.
(Continued in Part 4.)