Provide Objective Ministry Career Guidance


Offer unbiased coaching to those who seek career advice. First, listen to them. Answers to most career questions come by talking over possibilities with a sympathetic listener. Let the Holy Spirit guide your conversation. Even if they cannot make a crucial decision, do not try to decide for them; let them do research and consult experienced workers. Avoid giving them counsel as one who merely recruits for an organization.

New workers and those making career changes often need guidance in the following seven areas:

1.  Commitment. Some workers feel that they are fully committed if they work “full time” or go to a field “for life,” yet neither of these factors assures that one is doing God’s will. Christ laid the foundation for commitment in His Great Commission: commitment flows from loving obedience to His commands. Valid ministries contribute to this aim in different ways. Persons who jump quickly from one vocation to another may need help to know what God has gifted them to do, and in what kinds of setting they can realistically do it.

2.  Choice of Ministry. Vocation depends on one’s gifts, talents and personality type as well as God’s leading. Let workers test their gifts with their church or cell group or while planting a church, before they go to a distant field. Filling in a spiritual gift inventory, that define gifts according to how one answers certain questions, can help, but it cannot take the place of the Holy Spirit’s leading when testing one’s abilities while doing fieldwork. Responses to standard inventories tend to reflect recent experiences more than permanent aptitudes, and some questions assume an institutional church context.

3.  Choice of Field. Where will one work? Locally? Abroad? With what people? Often one goes to a field because a team leader has gone there and is looking for helpers. It is hard to select a field based on its need. Some will say the greatest need is in Los Angeles; others, in Iran, China, or with some organization. They may all be right, if defining their own unique calling. Needs do not always make up the most relevant criteria to select a field. Jesus’ Great Commission sends followers to “all peoples,” which requires that many, but not all, seek to go to neglected fields.

4.  Choice of Training. The type of training one needs depends on prior preparation, field demands, gifts and personal plans. If possible, one should receive training by the same method he will employ in the field. To work in fields with hostile authorities, one needs experience in low profile coaching, in training new leaders in the way Jesus and His apostles did.

5.  Accountability and team relationships. New field workers should ask about possible field assignments, with their potential field supervisors or team leaders, not merely with a central office. The leader to whom a new worker will be directly accountable must know and agree with what God has called and gifted the new worker to do, and for what he has been trained. New workers should not dictate to a field leader what they plan to do; rather, provide a note from a sending church or school stating for what they were commissioned and trained to do.

6.  Financial Support. A field worker’s source of livelihood should depend on field conditions, and one’s abilities. Many fields need self-supporting “tentmakers” instead of paid missionaries.

7.  Family, legal and practical issues. Before entering a distant field, agree on your spouse’s role in ministry (if any), children’s education, type of visa, health insurance and language learning.

If believers lack the maturity to make wise career decisions, then do not urge them to do so. Rather encourage them to make disciples at home, pray and learn God’s Word, until the Holy Spirit steers them elsewhere.

Some find it helpful to rate their preferences on three levels. For example:


Strong Preferences

Mild Preferences

Make disciples

Plant churches

Pioneer field

Harmonize holistic gifts

Shepherding role

Asia, inner city poor

Bi-vocational support

Work closely with spouse

Creative arts

Not a team leader


Close-knit task force

Factors to list include type of work, with what coworkers, serving whom, where, how, etc. List things that you are sure you would do, whether or not your church or agency does them. To get started, you might go over the spiritual gifts in Rom. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:11-12 and 1 Cor. 12:8-10, listing any that you know you have.

A church or cell is fully “planted” when it is doing the activities that the New Testament requires. These include the following:


Pray. Intercede, have daily personal & family devotions, do spiritual warfare and pray for healing

Evangelize. Witness for Jesus and baptize.

Make disciples. Train believers to obey Jesus.

Give. Be stewards of time, talent and treasure.

Teach God’s Word. Equip believers to serve.

Strengthen family life and marriage. Coach privately persons or families with problems.

Show mercy. Serve the hurting and needy.

Cultivate loving fellowship. Provide time free from scheduled activity, for spontaneous interaction.

Organize. Serve one another and other congregations, using spiritual gifts in harmony.

Correct and restore. Watch for wolves and weak lambs.

Worship. Let all believers participate actively and celebrate Communion regularly.

Start churches and cell groups. Keep congregations multiplying.

Extend Christ’s kingdom. Prepare and send workers to neglected peoples, nearby and afar.

Train leaders. Model shepherding skills for apprentices.

You might also sort preferences by work style or Bible character models with which they strongly identify.


Creative or routine?

Detailed processing or intuitive designing?

Individual or team approach?

Church-based team, team formed by an agency, or a multinational team?

Holistic (harmonizing diverse gift-based ministries in one effort) or a specialized program?

Work with a church, mission agency or other organization?

Work as an up-front leader, behind-the-scenes executive or follower?

Start a project, manage it, or both?

Church or parachurch organization?

Deal with ideas, machines, outdoor projects, animals, agriculture or people?

Megachurch, medium size church, home church or cell group?

Minister to a large flock, children, youth, families, specific people group?

Work with the poor, middle class, educated, tribal or specific geographical location?

Work in primitive societies or near health facilities?

Inner city, urban or rural?

Short or long term?

Keep primary accountability with a sending church or another organization?

Preach or teach others to preach?

Disciple in a high profile role or behind the scenes?



Led troops into battle. Used the arts to praise God.

Wrote psalms (poems of praise).

Dispensed justice.

Cultivated personal relationships behind the scenes, as with Jonathan.

Forgave his enemy Saul.

Showed compassion to crippled Mephibosheth.

Planned and prepared to build the temple

Paul: Traveled broadly with many adventures.

Took offerings to the poor.

Explain theology in letters.

Counsel Christian brothers behind the scenes.

Evangelize neglected peoples.

Led a church planting team.

Earned a living making tents.

Organized new churches.

Discipled Timothy and Titus.

Prayed fervently for the churches.

Kept a holistic balance between all these areas of ministry


Helped her husband make tents to enable churches to be planted in difficult fields.

Worked with churches that met in her home.

Coached Apollos behind the scenes.

Provided hospitality for the traveling missionaries.

Cared for her husband and family


Preached to a large group of seekers at Pentecost.

Baptized and disciple the converts.

Sat at Jesus’ feet learning about the Kingdom.

Healed the lame man in Jerusalem.

Discussed church policy with the leaders who came from Antioch.

Started a church in the gentile Cornelius’ house.

Led that church planting team.

Wrote letters to new churches and leaders.

Kept a balance in church life by harmonizing all ministries.


Interceded for his people with God, and with the emperor.

Traveled from Iran to Jerusalem with the temple gold in spite of great peril.

Scouted out the ruins and planned reconstruction.

Inspired the people to work.

Managed the work.

Put down opposition.

Chronicled the names in detail of the exiles who returned.

Taught the law of God.

Carried out broad reforms.

Helped Ezra pen important letters to heads of state.


Named and supervised other elders of Israel.

Interceded for his people.

Listened to and ruled on cases of justice.

Recorded down details of God’s Law.

Monitored the progress and details of the construction of the tabernacle.

Helped Aaron work out methods of worship.

Composed psalms.

Led his people through the perils of the desert.


Explained the Word of God to nominal believers who had abandoned Scriptural truth.

Led a renewal movement against strong opposition.


Served her people as a righteous queen.

Exposed the bad guy Haman.

Used great tact and diplomacy to move the emperor to do justice.

Planned important banquets.

Served her endangered people as a ‘mole’ within the royal palace.

Followed the wise advice of her coach, Mordecai.


Provided clothes for the poor.


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