A review of Ademola Adedeji’s book “Called to the Pulpit, but not a Pastor”
“Called to the Pulpit, but not a Pastor” – One body, different parts, different functions, but one mission, highlights the need for understanding the basis of one’s calling.
An eight-chaptered master-exhortation of an inspiration that started out on the 26th July, 2013. In the author’s words, “I went to bed on the night of 26th July, 2013 with so many questions on my mind. The day was very busy, filled with activities, typically with some contractors whose services I needed for an agricultural project somewhere in Southwestern Nigeria.” This inspiration spurned a waking thought of the deep mysteries of Christ’s call to every Christian. In his words, “though you are called to the pulpit, you do not necessarily have to be a pastor”.
Chapter 1- “Called to the Pulpit, but…” mirrors the lives of great men of God – Enoch, Noah, Terah, Abram, Isaac, etc. However, the life of Bezaleel – the gifted workman, was explicitly recreated. The vision shown to Moses of a tabernacle by God, needed to be accomplished to the least specification. None other was fitter to the task than Bezaleel. Indeed he was called, called to the Pulpit of Implementing a Divine Design. Bezaleel means “in the shadow of God”, which means “Bezaleel had a close relationship with God”. In other words, “he closely followed God”. Hence, the writer highlights the need of commitment and closeness to the ways of God in other to consolidate our call by God.
Chapter 2 – “You are also Called!”, clearly an offshoot of Chapter 1. The writer goes further to say that “everyone called out of the world or darkness is called into an assignment”. That singular statement calls for a deep introspection. A call isn’t just a call for the sake of being called. The fact that you were called out of an “environment” means, you have to work on your new “environment”. As outlined in this Chapter, Moses was called out of the “environment” of an Egypt-trained scholar, a brilliant maestro of ancient learning; and was called into the “environment” of operating in “the capacity of a prophet and as the leader of the nation”.
However, before a call is consolidated, the One who calls imbues the one whom he calls with a special “ability for that specific assignment”. Moses was operating in the “environment” of a prophet and a leader of the nation of Israel, but the operational capacity for the specific activity of building a tabernacle was given to Bezaleel. As the writer suggests, this is not to be understood “in terms of the five-fold ministry alone”. Furthermore, there are others blessed with generosity, really not a function of how much money one has, but an uncanny ability to touch lives in remarkable ways – financially and otherwise. Other specific abilities, like “leadership”, “encouragement” were also mentioned.
This is basically a reminder that “where you are is your own pulpit”.
Chapter 3 – “1 Levite + 3 Reubenites”, maintains the predominant idea that you may not have the tag and collar, if you may, of “Pastor” but you are also called to the Pulpit. From the writer’s words, “Your ability to do certain things well is a pointer to the assignment you have to accomplish on your pulpit”. Failure to understand this simple truth results in a costly conflict of identity and recognition, and this sadly, could be both cancerous and lethal to the body of Christ.
Korah was aptly cited as the character for consideration in this chapter. A man who clearly failed to grapple with the value his position portended in the congregation of the people of God. As a result, “he abandoned his own duty post, disregarded his own call, and staged a protest against a man who was observing his own divine mandate”.
Indeed failure to understand one’s call may lead one to a misconceived idea of one’s ability in a certain “environment”. Korah probably did not understand that everyone will only be rewarded for abiding by his call. Just as it applied in those days, many who don’t understand who they are; garb themselves in the unprofitable engagement of witch-hunting – gossiping, backbiting, unwholesome criticisms, seeking the fall of those standing in their “territory” – their “environment”.
We would only succeed in our callings if we can only concentrate on the things we are imbued to do well with, rather than becoming overly conscious of the big achievements of others. Truly, as the writer reiterates, “God’s blessings is a reward for obedience”.
“Chapter 4 – Not that Small!”. In the ecstasy of proclaiming what we are called to do or not do, there is the need of remembering the very foundation of our call – Salvation. As the writer remarked, “the call unto salvation is the most important call on which other calls are validated”. It is the first and the best of all calls. We are enjoined to inculcate the attitude of thanksgiving, because it is no small thing that you can call God, Father. Not for any reason, but because you are saved.
The writer clearly emphasizes that no service is small in the house of God. Indeed, God is truly involved in the smallest of things as much as the biggest of other things. He is a “righteous rewarder”, therefore, every service attracts a reward.
However, small those assignments may seem, we may also find ourselves having an urge to “do more”. But the question to be asked is “what is my motive?”. For most people who seek a greater responsibility do so because of their zeal – not because of a genuine desire to serve God more. Therefore to attain a true perspective of our individual calls, our motives, zeal and sincerity must be molded in accordance with the will of God.
“Chapter 5 – Aholiab did not Breakaway”. The focus of the character example is cast on Aholiab – “tent of the father”. A tent, by observation and experience, provides a shield from both the sun and the rain. It is also not a permanent structure. We understand from the assignment given to Aholiab, that he was to work hand-in-hand with Bezaleel. In a contemporary nuance, he was to provide assistance to Bezaleel, thus making Bezaleel his boss, his master.
This chapter makes certain the necessity of ensuring that we avoid schisms – divisions. One of the causes of divisions in the present Church is the lack of recognition of the need to provide lasting support to those we are to support. We should learn to appreciate the gifts of others and connect with them for the common good of the Church and the society at large.
“Chapter 6 – The wisehearted men”. Apart from Bezaleel and Aholiab, certain others were mentioned, whom the Bible referred to as “wisehearted”. We can understand that for Bezaleel and Aholiab to be in charge of these wisehearted men, they were wisehearted themselves. We can also deduce that these men referred to as being wisehearted were so because they stayed faithful to their own calling.
Therefore, taking your time to identify the purpose of your call, the importance of your gifts, and your usefulness in the sanctuary, qualifies you as being wisehearted.
“Chapter 7 – Watch your message” and “Chapter 8 – Come Out” highlights the fact that in the theatre, the light is only beamed on the stage – typical of the pulpit in theological parlance. Therefore, you have been called to “the pulpit”, but you might not be “a pastor”.
The writer posits that “every pulpit produces its message”. Hence, you are sending messages knowingly or unknowingly, and the earlier you are aware of this, the better. So, watch your message!
Chapter 8 provides a summary of every nugget gleefully gleaned from preceding chapters. This chapter challenges every indecisiveness. A lethargic attitude in not quickly recognizing one’s call and following through with that call.
The writer implies coming out of your lethargy, complacency and Korah-esque tendencies, and see your call as foremost in consolidating your purpose on earth and giving glory to the one who saved you.
An exhortation for recognizing and sustaining one’s call. It is a must-read;
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