When I was a young pastor I was in awe of those people who had given up so much to serve God. They had high powered careers, came from wealthy backgrounds, were smart and influential. I was a truck driver from a working-class family. After several years in ministry, I found myself teaching some of these amazing people in Bible College. Sitting in my class were people who were far smarter than I was and came from professional backgrounds. They were respectful and eager to learn, however, I was intimidated by their presence. Then in a moment of quiet reflection, God whispered in my ear, what have you given up to serve me? My answer was “everything.” What have they given up to serve me? My answer was “everything.” The common denominator of the Call of God is that we all give up everything.
In the natural and by comparison we measure ourselves by position, influence, assets, career, etc. For some of us, it seems like there is an uneven balance. Those of us who watch these things we know that it is not a number that ultimately affects decisions, it is what is in the heart of a believer. An insecure person can have wealth, title and position and still be insecure. A trusting person can have little but who trusts in God will be generous and give what they have.
It reminds me of the encounter of Jesus with a good person. We know him as the rich young ruler. A person of means, a person with a good heart, a person who would be on the eldership of our Churches and donating to worthy causes. If he was in our world today he would be young, handsome, attending an ivory league university, going out with the best-looking girl and not have any money concerns at all. He would drive a Tesla, drink single origin coffee and donate money to worthy charities.
This story is not about how hard it is for the wealthy but rather the equality of the sacrifice required from every person to follow the Call of God. God requires the same thing from every person who answers the call, everything.
Jesus challenges this young man to sell all his possessions and follow him. We often view this story as a warning to the wealthy however, I see it as an encouragement to the average, the lesser, the people who view themselves as common. In Mark 10:28, Peter says to Jesus, “We’ve given up everything to follow you.” I may only be a fisherman but I have given it up to follow you. I may only be a truck driver but I have given it up to follow you. It’s not just about the lessers who give everything up to follow Jesus but it also about the privileged giving up what they have to follow Him. Think of Matthew, Paul, Dorcas, the Centurion and others who risk all, give up all to follow Jesus.
To follow the Call of God its not about function, title, performance, role inside the church or outside in the community or workforce it is an attitude, a mindset. I must give up everything to follow. It is the common denominator of the Call, everything.
Now as I continue to follow the Call of God on my life I find myself having to answer the same question over and over again. Are you willing to give up everything? Sometimes, I find saying yes easy and sometimes, I find saying yes difficult. In my life, I have given up what many would consider insignificant to follow Jesus and I have given up what many consider significant to follow Jesus. The universal truth is that whatever others perceive the value of what I have given up to follow the call of God it is insignificant in comparison to what I have received back by following the Call God. A fulfilled life.
The common denominator to following the Call of God is we give up everything.