Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead …
Galatians 1:1 (NIV)
In his Letter to the Galatians Paul introduces himself in the opening greeting. He tells the Galatians about his calling, in that he has not been chosen and sent by men, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.
In 2 Corinthians 11:24-29 Paul sets out many of the difficulties he faced in his ministry:
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
When I read these verses I wonder what sustained this man to keep on going in the face of such opposition and pressure. Looking back at the quote above from Galatians 1 Paul gives us the answer himself. Because Paul was confident of his calling, he was able to endure great hardship in his ministry.
What gives you confidence in your ministry? Is it that people have recognised your gifting as a speaker, teacher, or evangelist? While this is important, it is not the most important aspect of calling. There are many examples given in Scripture of individuals who didn’t feel up to the job, but despite this were effective instruments in God’s hands. What made the difference was God’s call to them and them being willing to accept God’s call.