Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Everyone Is Gifted to Serve

Everyone is Gifted by God and Called to Serve

What do you do to make a living? What is your profession? What kind of work do you do? These are questions that are often posed. Seldom do we hear someone ask, "What is your calling?"

I worked for several years in a "job." Then at the altar during a campmeeting worship service in the summer of 1966 I knew that I was "called to preach." I enjoyed working in retail grocery but knew that what I was doing to make a living was not God's plan for my life. Accepting my "call" resulted in leaving my job and beginning a journey that continues today.

From Alabama to New York to Tennessee and then to Georgia. After enrolling in the Candler School of Theology, I received my first appointment in the United Methodist Church in 1972 and then was ordained in 1973. In the intervening years I have served seven appointments, including six local churches in six districts across north Georgia.

Clergy are not the only persons who are called by God to ministry. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church asserts that "All Christians are called through their baptism to (the) ministry of servanthood in the world..." Some people are called to be artists or teachers. Others are called to be physicians, sales clerks, truck drivers, engineers, or to protect our environment. Everyone is gifted by God and called to serve.

After 20 years in private practice as a lawyer and four years as a U. S. Attorney, William S. Duffey was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2003 as a U.S. District judge. He has sentenced terrorists to prison, investigated the Clintons during the Whitewater controversy and recently contributed to and co-edited the book "A Life in the Law: Advice for Young Lawyers." He refers to his profession as a "calling" and suggests that the "calling requires great courage."

The Vocation Prayer of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Beaverton, Oregon includes the following requests: "God our Father, you have called us from our baptism to be your light in the darkness of our world as your chosen disciples. Help each of us to say YES to our life vocation. Send us your Holy Spirit that we may all live our baptism with courage, dedication, and trust."

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) states that "God has given each of us gifts and ‘calls' us to use them in a way that pleases and glorifies God. Our vocation is the way in which we respond to the many gifts God has given us; how we live our life."

God said to Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I called you" (Jer. 1:5). Again he told the prophet, "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jer. 29:11).

Paul wrote to the Ephesians "You should (not) all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift" (Eph. 4:7).

Are you called to ministry? If you are a baptized Christian the answer is yes. Everyone is not called into ordained or licensed ministry. It does not matter what credentials or titles we have. All Christians are called to use the talents that God has given in the opportunities that are encountered. Do you know what your calling is? Are you following it?

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken by permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia" newsletter of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]