A spiritual leader will first and foremost, have a calling from God . His work will not be his profession, but his calling.
No-one can appoint himself as a spiritual leader. "He has to be called by God for this work" (Hebrews 5:4- TLB). This is a principle that cannot be changed. The next verse goes on to say that even Jesus did not appoint Himself as our High Priest. The Father appointed Him. If that be the case, how much more this should be true of us, in our calling.
The tragedy today is that the vast majority of "Christian workers" in India are working to earn their living. It is a profession for them. They have not been called by God.
There is a lot of difference between "a profession" and "a calling". Let me explain what I mean. Suppose there's a sick child in a hospital and a nurse looks after it for 8 hours on her shift-duty. That nurse then goes home and forgets all about that child. Her concern for that child was only for 8 hours. Now she has other things to do, such as going to the movies and watching television. She doesn't have to think about that child again until the next day when she goes back to work. But the mother of that child doesn't work 8-hour shifts! She can't go to the movies when her child is sick. That's the difference between a profession and a calling.
If you apply that illustration to the way you care for the believers in your church, you'll discover whether you're a nurse or a mother!
Paul said, in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 , "We proved to be gentle among you as a mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well pleased to impart you not only the gospel but also our own lives because you've become very dear to us."
Paul not only imparted the gospel of God to those Christians but his life as well. Any ministry that is not done in this way is not really Christian ministry. Paul served God like that because he had a calling to the ministry. He didn't take it up as a profession.
It's wonderful to serve the Lord. It is the greatest thing in the world. Nothing on earth can be compared with it - but only if you're called . It cannot be reduced to a profession.
God called me to serve Him (full-time) on May 6, 1964 when I was an officer in the Indian Navy. I handed in my resignation then to the naval authorities. But it was like Moses asking Pharaoh to let the Israelites go! The Indian Navy wouldn't release me. It took two years and repeated applications before they finally released me - miraculously - in God's perfect time.
Being called of God has made all the difference in my life.
First of all, it doesn't matter to me now, what people think about me or my ministry, because Someone Else is my Master and I have to answer only to Him.
Secondly, I can trust God to stand by me and give me grace whenever I face any trial or opposition in my ministry - and that happens often.
Thirdly, it doesn't matter to me whether I receive any money or not, and whether I get any food to eat or not. If I receive food and money, well and good. If I don't get any food or money, that's fine with me too. I cannot stop serving the Lord, just because I didn't get money or food - because God has calledme.
I can't get rid of my calling. I'm not a salaried employee who can stop working when I'm not paid or fed! It's like the case of the mother and her child. A nurse will stop working if her salary is not paid one month. But a mother can never stop. She doesn't get a salary in any case! And she'll look after her baby even if she doesn't get any food or money! That's how the apostles served the Lord.
What a glorious thing it is to be called of God!