Catching the Wave: the Shift from Ordained to Ordinary

By Thom Wolf

Thom is Director of University Institute, New Delhi, India, an Asia-based learning group with clients throughout South and East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

At the hingepoint from the 20th century to the 21st century, the Student Volunteer Movement 2 is being fuelled by those whose minds and hearts are set ablaze with the passion of God for the nations—but with this crucially significant difference.

Many are not abandoning their past, but embracing it. They are scattering to earths ends, not as the ordained, but as the ordinary—God’s ordinary—God encountering, enfolding, energizing lives in the marketplace through ordinary people set in new directions from the new life of the living God in their hearts.

Recently I was in Seattle USA when the topic was raised about what drives history. Several options were discussed: economics, politics, demographics, epidemics, and technology.

Also in the mix was the question: does secular history drive spiritual history, does spiritual history drive secular history, or some combinations of those? Let me propose a minority position.

I think an overlooked perspective is that of an obscure 1st century thinker. He represents a powerfully brilliant, but largely excluded voice in the current intellectual dialogue: Jesus, the Galilean.

His proposal was bold, blunt, and elegantly beautiful. He said: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Most people live their lives embedded within a period of history. Few live their lives at a turning point of history. This generation, however, is a turning point generation.

The characteristic of the age of the ordained was, if God speaks into your life and you fully dedicate yourself to the purposes of God, then abandon your past and enter the full-time ministry, the ministry of the ordained.

That time period has ended. A turning point has occurred. We are already into and more deeply entering into the new period of history: the period of the ordinary.

In other words: if the Spirit of God stirs your heart to see the purpose of God, if you seek God and fully dedicate yourself to the things of God, the exhortation of God today is often not for you to abandon your past, but for you to embrace your past.

That is, at entry of the 21st century, there is a reconnect with what the Spirit says at the entry of the 1st century, “Each person should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him…although if you can gain” a better situation, take it. (I Corinthians 7.17-24)

See your career as the context of your character development. Recognize your major for what it can be—the matrix for your ministry. Listen to God and go forward: not by abandoning your major, your past, your work, but by embracing your work, your past and your major as the vehicle of your vocation.

The religious domain is a profoundly powerful lifezone. But is not the only, nor will it be in the emerging era, even the primary life domain. Instead, the religious zone in Jesus will be even more powerful as Paul’s direction is followed: to equip all God’s people for their work of ministry.

All God’s people, in all the life domains—technological, political, economic, social, educational, cultural—engaged in doing good deeds, creating good will, and sharing good news: good deeds, good will, good news.

All flowing from abiding in His words and obeying His commands in everyday life. If you are on the front end of connecting to God’s purposes for the nations how can you be used of God to bless the nations, especially to bring good news to the distant people you love in your heart and prayers?

My counsel? Follow the ABC plan: A: Ask. B: Bow. C: Create. Ask about felt-needs. Ask about the people group of your heart interest. Through interviews and research, learn the cluster of areas of need and the call for personnel of the leaders by the people group of your passion.

Bow to the facts-nexus. Do not try to bang your head through concrete walls sealed shut. Walk through the doors of opportunity open wide. In the global world, there are doors of nexus-connection.

Find them. And fit them. And if you do not now have a career profile that currently fits the dimensions of those doors, then at least you now know your task. Create the faith-next steps.

God calls into being things that are not. History belongs to the intercessors. By faith, begin to take next steps. Next steps are your headlights into God’s future. You do not need to see everything ahead. God’s will is not about daylight. God’s will is about headlights.

Go forward in the light you have. Take the faith next steps. Those steps of obedience, those plans carried out are your headlights that pierce the fogs of the future.

And thus you will find yourself moving into God’s future. God’s future for you. And God’s future for the nations. We are at a turning point of history.

And in this time, God’s future will be created, not primarily by the ordained. That day is past. God’s future will go forward out of the lives of the ordinary.

Ordinary people, in all the life domains, radically abandoned to God’s will for all the peoples of the planet.

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