It did not take long in church history before a special class of Christians developed that was professional. The idea that there should be a class of professional Christians has plagued Christianity for almost two thousand years, but is just not biblical.
The idea that special people are set apart and called to serve the Lord “full-time” is a cracked lens that distorts our view of everything and we have developed language that supports our view. Those who serve as professional pastors are “called.” everyone else is just working.
The distinction is not biblical. As I read and reread the New Testament without this lens, I find that all are called to follow. It is not the destination of the following that indicates the calling; the calling is the following. So if God calls you to serve as a pastor, your calling is fulfilled among a flock. If you are called to be a contractor, your calling is fulfilled at the contractor’s work site. Whatever your calling, you are to serve your Master well.
The problems with seeing some people as called into special roles are profound. Those who serve the church professionally are seen as more holy than those who do not. Expectations are placed on them that are not placed on other Christians. And as I said earlier, this lowers the bar for those who are not pursuing a ministry vocation, with the result that average Christians do not bear the responsibility of following God fully. They are simply the drones who work hard to finance the real workers who carry the weight of the kingdom. The lives of those who serve professionally are held to higher account. We have a whole list of traits that we must check off before someone is allowed to serve in such a high position.
I do not see this in the New Testament. Jesus calls all of us to surrender our whole life to follow him. This is not a call into a career but into a kingdom. All citizens of Christ’s kingdom are called to serve fully. No Christian is held to a higher level of accountability for his or her character than another. Jesus bled so that all of us could be holy and set apart, not just a few.
Now it is true that leaders are held to a stricter accountability, but that is true whether they are paid to lead or not. And regardless of accountability, each of us is called to a holy life. None is called to a more holy life than another.