Shepherd’s Care: The “Ingredients” of Our Call

Over the years, I have found Acts 1:8 to be useful in periodically reviewing my calling.  Last week, we shared the three levels of calling, but those levels must be lived in various “locations”—Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.

I have taken these historic locations and applied them to dimensions of my call; others have spoken and written similarly…

Jerusalem—this is the actual ministry setting we find ourselves in; the congregation, parachurch organization, etc.  It is the day-to-day “place” of our ministry.

Judea—this is the place where my specific location intersects with the larger church and civic communities.  For example, it might mean serving on a District or Conference committee, or coaching a local Little League team.  It is where ministry connects with servanthood outside my immediate responsibilities.

Samaria—this is ministry in places where there are challenges, obstacles, and resistances.  It may be an actual neighborhood—a place where the church has not been present or welcomed.  It may be an ideological place, where the conflict of ideas and beliefs has to be addressed.  The point is, nearly all callings have to deal with “push back” sooner or later.

Ends of the Earth—this is what we usually think of as the “global” dimensions.  It doesn’t always have to be in a foreign country, for there is plenty to be done in our own nation.  But it the dimension of our calling which takes us outside our accustomed territories and engages us for the good of those we may not live with on a daily basis.  It is the aspect of our calling that creates partnerships with Christians around the world.

I believe God will call us to have these symbolic “locations” in our ministry.  It is a useful way of stepping back to ask ourselves where these dimensions are in our ministry.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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3 Responses to Shepherd’s Care: The “Ingredients” of Our Call

  1. Thanks, It was defining for mY in my call.

  2. Tom Pope says:

    This is a great model for service. I will be using it in our “salty service” outreach structure component.

  3. John Ryberg says:

    Hello Dr. Harper,
    We use an Acts 1:8 model for our missions structure at Asbury UMC in Madison, Alabama. We talk about “Samaria” missions as work with those we might cross the street to avoid, in reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite crossed the street to avoid contact with the victim.

    I appreciate your point that we eventually we experience push back in all mission, but Samaria mission is also about working with people we might revile according to the conventional wisdom of our culture. Sex offenders, HIV positive, homeless, and mentally ill persons are a few examples of the target demographic of Samaria mission work. In Samaria missions, we have to fight the “push back” of our own sensibilities.

    Then again, we may also have to overcome this internal push back in any ministry or mission work.

    It is a pleasure to receive your posts each day. Thanks for all that you did to inspire me during seminary and the ongoing encouragement your words give to me as I work towards ordination. Many blessings.

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