When God calls you to do something, the correct answer is "Here I am Lord, send me." You don't need to wait for man's permission or to be sent by men when you've been commissioned and sent by God. Here are 7 important lessons we can learn from the Apostle Paul. (Acts 9-15 and Galatians 1-2)
1. YOU DON'T HAVE TO ASK MAN'S PERMISSION.
When Paul was saved the Bible says:
"IMMEDIATELY he preached God in the synagogues,” (Acts 9:20)
There is no record of anyone inviting Paul to speak or giving him a platform for ministry. He just did it. He had the right of aliyah, that is, the right to ascend to the platform and bring the word of God. He just walked in like he owned the place because, as a child of God, he did!!! Paul didn't need man's permission, he had God's permission.
2. DON'T WAIT.
Paul immediately began a 3 year ministry to Arabia and Damascus before he ever even met any of the church leaders.
"When he who had set me apart before I was born and called me by His grace was pleased to reveal His Son to me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood. I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me; instead I went to Arabia and came back to Damascus." (Galatians 1:16-17)
Paul did not wait to be sent because he had already been sent, into all the world, at the Great Commission. He already had permission and indeed, a divine mandate to go.
3. BE RELATIONAL (not dependant)
After his salvation, Paul met together with disciples in the area and was refreshed before beginning his first 3 years of ministry.
"Then after 3 years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and remained with him 15 days. But I did not see any of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother."
Paul met briefly with Peter and then immediately set off to minister in Syria and Cilica. He stayed connected to local churches, but his dependence was on God. He was not immediately accepted by some of the other disciples who were afraid to meet with him, so he moved on and was about the work of Jesus Christ. Psalm 133:1 says "How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity." Paul stayed connected throughout his ministry and grew in influence as he came into relationship and partnership with other believers. It was that desire for connection that led to his writing of certain letters....
4. YOU ARE ANOINTED. The moment we are saved, we receive the Holy Spirit. We are anointed. Paul did not need the disciples or any leader to recognize his anointing and sanction his ministry.
"But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him." -1 John 2:27
You don't need anyone to recognize your "anointing" just start walking it out. Let it sparkle and shine. Eventually they will figure it out.
5. SEEK WISE COUNSEL. After 17 years of ministry, a serious problem arose and Paul went to Jerusalem where he refused to submit to the Jewish leaders for even a moment. He did speak with the Christian leaders and apostles who FINALLY extended the right hand of fellowship to him, accepted him as a brother and FINALLY recognized his ministry and calling. Paul mentions that they did not add anything to him. He met with them as an equal, though he humbled himself to explain what he had been teaching so they could verify. (Galatians 2, Acts 15) Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to give up meeting together. Paul could easily have been discouraged by the fear so many had of him and given up meeting together with other believers, but instead he built his ministry around the local church and stayed connected to other believers.
6. TRUTH BRINGS UNITY: After all those years, Paul was finally accepted. But Satan was moving against the church with false teaching and the old religious elite were trying to gain a foothold into the church. After finally being accepted, one of the first things that God called Paul to do was to rebuke Peter for refusing to eat with Gentiles.
"When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned."
Peter was afraid of men and he and others were cowtowing to the circumcision party putting the law above grace. His was teaching wrongly by his actions. Paul risked the disapproval of the apostles, but truly, he acted as a real brother to restore Peter to what he should be and to maintain the unity of the church by preaching the gospel correctly and clearly. He valued God's word above man's approval and the unity of the church was saved from the divisiveness of incorrect behavior and wrong teaching that was pulling Barnabbas and even Peter and the other apostles away from the truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth and true unity can only come through the truth. In today's church, Paul might be called "divisive," or "troublemaker," for disagreeing with an apostle, but nothing could be further from the truth. Scripture makes it clear that the divisive person teaches false doctrine and the peacemaker holds firmly to the word of truth. (Romans 16:17-18, Titus 1:9-14) Paul's stance stopped Satan in his tracks. These teachings had caused a sharp divide among the early disciples and the church and Paul's words will later show that in order to defeat Satan, we must be stubbornly kind and while remaining relentlessly dedicated to the truth:
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
7. GET GOING/KEEP ON KEEPIN ON. After all this, Paul set off on more missionary journeys and began writing letter....after letter...after letter....No matter what his position or circumstances were, his calling never changed. Keep on Keepin' on.
What has God placed inside you that is burning to get out? The Waiting is over. It is time for Christians to stop waiting and develop a Holy sense of urgency. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says "Do not quench the Spirit." We must never let the disinterest of our peers, interference from opponents, the indifference of leadership to our calling or the denial of opportunity extinguish the light of our flame, causing us to give up or become complacent. It might take training, hard work, faithfulness and patience, but the time to begin is now. Let your light shine brightly. We have been clothed with power from on high. What are we waiting for? Let's GO!!!