Journal Acts 8 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.”
And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.
But when they believed Phillip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Phillip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he (Simon) was amazed.
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for He had not yet fallen on any of them, they had only be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then they (Peter and John) laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hand, (Simon) offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:9-19
Observation: Everyone wants to get in on the act of ministry, few are willing to wait patiently to be appointed (which is different from a “calling”).
Analysis: Right off the bat, I confess that I don’t know all the ins and outs of the Holy Spirit and “calling.”
I think this perspective seems right, that I can “self-call” and then be sympathetically appointed OR I can humbly ask a mentor (discipler) to teach me and watch over my life and see OBJECTIVELY whether my SUBJECTIVE impression is correct or not.
Because this doesn’t often happen, when someone declares, “I have a “calling”, they are automatically shuttled into a different context—not often is there a question by others, “I wonder if that is true?”
Simon was like that (sort of). Simon wanted to “minister” and have the crowd’s adulation just like he did when he was performing magic. Was the desire to “minister” real? The desire may have been, but was he appointed by God to do so in such a public manner? And then because Peter and John came laying on hands and baptizing in the Holy Spirit, Simon wanted it too, to so much an extent that he thought that ministry could be bought.
How could have Simon done differently?
One way was to be mentored in the Way of the Gospel, the Kingdom. A newby has enthusiasm and desire but not much in the way of maturity.
Another way is to look to physically serve, presumably in secret, with an effort to not draw attention to himself—look for those humble instances to serve.
Me? I always thought that my calling was to teach and minister prophetically. A prophet once told me that my gift was the gift of Wisdom. Looking backwards I failed so many times. Perhaps, proceeding in age, that I will eventually exhibit these gifts. Until then I struggle with my desire for ministry and promoting myself. I am looking for that “promotion” organically from the Holy Spirit. I keep one foot in front of another and do what the Scriptures direct in humble obedience until God might open another way for me.
I recognize Simon’s inclination in me. And I confess that sin in me daily.
Prayer: Father, you know that I often think of Simon and me. I have Dave’s book “Holy Ambition” in my bookcase—but have much gotten past the preface. I don’t know where Ambition intersects “holy” and “worldly”, “Godly” and “Selfishly.” So, I plod, quietly discipling my wife; writing; applying myself to learning and then applying these things to a public.
I remember the story in Acts 3 where Peter and John were going to temple and they stopped for a lame man. The story indicates that they weren’t looking for this guy, but the insinuation is that they were ready for the situation.
That’s where I want to be—reflexive in You.
Bring revival, heal this land.