A Canadian missionary author friend said to me, “It would take eight years of producing books [at my current rate of productivity] to fill the requests that I now have on hand.”  He was feeling overwhelmed and unable to satisfy the thirst of people all over the world for his Bible-based devotional expositions.  

So here is a need. Does that need constitute God’s call for this brother to provide these books? Is responding positively mandatory? Required? He writes them, edits them (or has volunteer or paid editors/proof-readers), prints them at his own expense (funds he is responsible topay out of his own pocket or raise;  he has several who have invested in his work over the years, but he is still responsible, and then he mails them out (again at his expense). 

He has books in about 25 different languages.  All such requests come from areas of the world where Christian resources are scarce and from people who have no funds. So here is a fine man, struggling to meet the requests before him. 

Is this need God’s call to this brother?  Is this something he must do because God commissioned him to do it via such requests?  Are these requests an obligation he must meet? Does the need constitute the call?

I hasten to add, this article is not for everyone.  At the risk of giving some a rationale for not serving, doing, or caring,  this article is directed to others who are at the other end of the service perspective–those who take so seriously their opportunities and obligations–what they regard as God’s call–as to be overwhelmed.

Under some pressure, this good brother said Matthew 8:18 provides some insight and guidance.  A needy crowd was before the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is surprising to read what He did. “When Jesus saw the crowd around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.”  

Great good could have been accomplished had the God-Man remained with the crowd. He didn’t.  Nor did the disciples stay behind to serve the throng–they went with Him.  So in this situation—no, this need/desire did not constitute God’s call upon His life.

My Canadian Christian friend felt that he should remain in the sweet presence of the Lord (as the disciples stayed physically with the Lord) and not be whipped into guilty legalism to get those books out the door to Asia and the Middle East.

For the serious Christian worker life is rigorous and demanding, and one needs to know he/she is serving because God called them to a given work. Being conscientious is not easy.  God is not handing out spiritual paychecks for the easy stuff. Fair weather followers need not apply.  If it is going to glorify God, it is probably going to exhaust those engaged because progress occurs most often at the breaking point.

On the other hand, some zealous, tender-minded believers will drag family members along on their crusades to the point of exhaustion.  The need does not necessarily constitute God’s call.  A need is not God’s command to others to meet that need.  We do not see Jesus marching through the Gospels insisting on healing every one and being a meal ticket for all who might be hungry.  Before taking on too much responsibility, soak the thing in prayer and get a lot of counsel.