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Ministry Calling & Gifting

In answer to the question, "How do you know if you have the call of God on your life?" and "How do you know if you have received a Gift?" A personal testimony by Dean VanDruff.

Circa 1990, I spent over a year traveling around the world with just this question as one of my goals. I asked everyone I could, and found myself all the more confused. Seeking the gifts (of teaching in particular) and calling led me to request prayer and advice from all I could; but led to nothing. Zero. Nada.

To back up, for 13 years of Christian living God had given me a supernatural ability to understand the things of the Spirit and the dynamics of God. But when I would try to speak about this, even in small groups, I would feel tremendous condemnation and God saying "Shut-up!"... basically.

A typical situation would be in a Sunday School class, where someone would be hashing a text of Scripture, obviously not understanding it--and beginning to sweat while speaking due to self-realization that what they were saying was contradictory or muddle-headed, but trying to make the best of it. I would see it all so clearly, and begin to soar in the Spirit with the wisdom and simplicity of God, and feel very sorry for the speaker as he tried to get through the confusion he was teaching. But I would always hear the "be quiet" when I would think to say something to help. A few times I would speak out anyway, and in these moments my tongue would stick to the roof of my mouth, and what I would say would be leaden, and I would feel very sorry and convicted afterwards. It was not that what I wanted to say was not true, it was just that I had no permission to speak; so my words fell as dead.

This made me keenly aware that I was not "sanctioned" to speak before the brethren as a teacher. The situation was all the more confusing in that I had worked in the past as a professional public speaker, making a lot of money at it, and in general I spoke a lot in business settings as an executive. But in a spiritual context, and concerning the things of the Lord, I was not able to speak to groups without feeling the backhand of God raised in warning. When I disobeyed the Spirit's leading, I got hit hard. Through many such painful lessons I came to know that while I had been given the gift of understanding, I did not have the gifts of either teaching or preaching.

This seemed odd to me. Why would God give me understanding--and that much needed considering the confusing, tepid, and false teaching all around in my experience--and not give me a voice to speak it? This question and seeming inconsistency led me to "earnestly pursue the greater gifts" by setting out on that 15 month pilgrimage around the world seeking to answer the question of "calling" and to get the "gift of teaching" by the laying on of hands. It did not work. Not to complain, it was a very nice trip from other aspects! I traveled around Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, etc. I met a lot of people, saw a lot of sites, ate a lot of interesting food. But my spiritual questions and goals were not furthered at all.

I came to the conclusion in 1990 that God was not going to give me the gift of teaching, since I had sought it with all my heart and from the best sources I knew of... and failed. The answer occurred to me as to why God was revealing His heart and secrets to me but not allowing me to tell others: He wanted me to live it. The proof, it seemed, was in the pudding, not in how clear it seemed to me, or even true. Truth is proven by its deeds. Where I had shown past fruit in my life is when people would observe my walk and ask me about things, and in this one-on-one context there was real power and ministry in what I could share--because it was not just theory, I was living proof. I was not theorizing or pontificating, I was fruit bearing after its own kind. Thus, with joy I resolved to grow and mature and become an "Abel" of sorts--one who teaches by example. I knew this ministry would cause some people to hate me as I simply walked in the favor of God, but I also knew that a few along the way would want to follow "what was right" and ask me and/or imitate me--and then and only then could I testify. In short, God was showing me things simply for me to live them out. I was to preach with deeds. I was to prove what could be done in the flesh by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was to demonstrate His life in me, such that others could follow and imitate if God gave them the ability to truly "discern the body of Christ". I felt good about this answer; real good; and gave up the chase for the "gift" or "calling".

There is much more to this story, you can be sure. Odd meetings, let-downs, hopes-dashed, dead-air, uncovering of ministerial phoniness, demonic "voices" as callings, fleshly enthusiasm as "calling", painful realizations of "leavanous" ministers and ministries, finding real power among nobodies, etc. But on to the important point.

Settling in to my humble walk and newfound "calling" (to simply being a living epistle) something very-odd-indeed happened. To set the background, I arrived early with my friend Don to visit a minister at a local "mega-church", and a young woman, Shelly, who knew Don saw us in the lobby and wanted to show us her classroom. The short-of-it was that I sensed that this was one of those unique once-in-a-lifetime teachers who was going to effect these kids for life, and I was incredibly impressed with the realization of her ministerial "anointing" to teach these kids. The room emanated with love, and my eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit to see it. I mention all of this not to sound flowery, but to convey how deeply it impressed me as being of / from God. A short time later Shelly offered to pray for me so that I would be given the gift of teaching. I did not encourage her at first, but she explained that at the church she went to there was a prophetic (preaching) gifting, but not really any teaching; that she was hungry for teaching; had been praying about it and that God had shown her that I (whom she had only just met) was to be that teacher; and that I did not have the gift; but that I was about to receive it. I milled this over in my mind and experience with some humor. I had sought luminaries in the faith to lay hands on me to no avail. I had chased shooting stars. And here before me was a "nobody" whom I knew in my heart was the real thing, and yet it all seemed so upside down to my carnal sensibilities. God had "set it up", and I had not lifted a finger to achieve it. It became clear to me that this was a definite "God thing", and I finally opened up and told her of my unproductive quest (as described above). She laid hands prayed for me, and I received an experiential and palpable filling.

The next time I spoke there was a peace and love in me about what I was saying that I had never experienced before, and I realized that "teaching" was not principally about knowledge... it is about love. The source and motive is to help, to impart, to enable, to warn. There was fire in my heart and a feeling of being dead-center in God's will as I would speak. Listeners would tear-up and be visibly moved as I imparted the things of God into their lives. The real gift... finally got from a disposable teacher in a short-lived school that closed down a year later. Such is the way the Lord as I have come to know it.

Anyway, that is my story. I hope it helps you in your quest. God looks to the haughty to bring them low, but to the humble in heart and lowly of spirit to raise them up. Choose your path.

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