If you've ever been asked to do something that you really didn't want to do, then you can imagine how the prophet Amos must have felt when God called him to leave his home and livelihood in Judah (southern kindgom) and go preach to Israel (northern kingdom).
Instead of receiving a welcome when Amos arrived in Israel, Amaziah, the idolatrous priest of Bethel, told him, "‘Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there'" (Amos 7:12, NIV).
Amos responded, "‘I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, "Go, prophesy to my people Israel"'" (vv. 14-15, NIV).
Like Amos, every minister faces spiritual opposition, which may be manifested in various ways. Individuals in the community may harass him. The minister and the church he pastors may face obstacles posed by zoning laws and excessive government regulations. Because a church is a nonprofit corporation, it doesn't pay the taxes that other corporations do. Some individuals and groups would like to eliminate this "tax break" for the church.
Just as Amos called the people to turn from their sins, God has called every minister to urge people to repent and accept God's gift of forgiveness. If a minister doesn't see individuals getting saved, he may become discouraged, or he may be disappointed if his congregation does not seem to share his vision to reach the lost. If he sees people accept Christ, but their lives do not change, he may become frustrated in tending his flock.
When we, as ministers, feel tempted to exclaim, "I didn't ask for this!" what can we learn from the example of Amos?
Amos was an ordinary, hardworking man. He had no obvious qualifications for being a prophet to Israel. Although he had not asked for the job, he humbly, obediently, and willingly obeyed. While it might have seemed an easier assignment to preach in his own village in Judah, he went where God sent him.
Amos preached only God's message to the people to whom God had sent him. He did not add to it or subtract from it. He concentrated on what God had called him to do. If we allow ourselves to be overloaded with additional responsibilities, particularly if God has not gifted us in those areas, we may feel overwhelmed and eventually experience burnout.
Amos sought God's wisdom and His will. When we feel inadequate or unqualified to deal with a situation, we pray and depend on God to a greater degree, rather than on our own abilities.
Amos did not seek people's approval, admiration, or commendation. He did not use his position as prophet to gain fame or status in the community. He sought only God's "well done." He realized that he was responsible for delivering God's message and that only God could change the people if they were willing to change.
Amos constantly reaffirmed his commitment to the Lord by his obedience even when he faced opposition and when he saw no positive results from his preaching. He remained faithful to God and dedicated to his calling. When we face opposition, we can refuse to be intimidated and, instead, continue to speak the truth in a consistent and sensitive manner.
Amos went only when God told him to go. If we are to be faithful like Amos, we must keep our priorities in focus: obey God, care for our families and our health, preach to those to whom God sends us, and win the lost. I Peter 3:15-16 tells us, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" (NIV).
© by Howard W. and Nancy A. Stevens