Not to disparage professionalism, I'm not so sure professionalism — or seeking to ascend that elusive ladder of success, is all it's cracked up to be. Scripture emphasizes something more than professionalism — it's called "serving God from the heart."

The Apostle Paul says, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24.

A great professional receives his or her recognition through trophies, blue ribbons and framed citations hanging on their office wall. The one who faithfully serves Christ will realize his or her rewards one day at what we know today as the Judgement Seat of Christ — a judgment not to determine if someone makes it into Heaven, but to determine one's standing in Heaven.

The great promise of Christ to His faithful at that judgment seat, who served Him from the heart will be, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Matthew 25:21

I believe the past few years have proven how insignificant earthly professionalism and the pursuit of that elusive ladder of success is in the political world. There is quite a stir in our nation's capital today because we have a president who is anything but a professional politician. Never mind the soaring economy, military victories across the globe and the resurgence of a booming industry under his watch — the guy simply does not possess the professionalism which has been demanded by the Washington elite.

In their opinion, the nation seems to be better off with a faltering economy, giant cities with homeless living under bridges, and breakdowns in safety, security, and morals, as long as there is a professional politician in the White House.

What about the pastorate — something with which I am familiar? While I am not, by any means, discounting the urgency of a minister preparing as much as possible, yet it seems strange, that there have been men with enough degrees to paper a large study, who failed to have the "success" that most churches expect from a professional pastor.

I have a great friend who is a pastor. He only had a few sermons under his belt prior to being called to his first (and only) church. I think he would be the first to admit that professionalism wasn't in his vocabulary. But he moved into the community — genuinely loved the people, and followed the scriptural mandate in being what a pastor should be.

Now, 26 years later, that church property takes up virtually one-fourth of the downtown area — their ministry reaches to the entire county. He has baptized hundreds of people. He is much more than a professional pastor - he is a "God called" pastor, who may not receive many earthly accolades for climbing the denominational ladder, but who has rewards in Heaven.

Rather than the Bible extolling professionalism, it stresses serving God, not with the motive of recognition here on earth; not to scale any ladder of success, but only for His glory and His good pleasure.

There was a guy named Nimrod, in Genesis 11, who was not only obsessed with ascending the ladder of success, he even tried to build the ladder. That chapter points out, in no uncertain terms, how God feels about the elusive ladder of success.

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Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.