For the Christians seeking to bring glory and honor to God, the same questions will come up repeatedly throughout their life. What is God’s purpose for me? What am I supposed to do with my life? After all, considering the great price Christ paid for the salvation of our lives, it only seems natural to ask how we can begin to honor Him.
Those who have come to believe that preaching or some form of ministry vocation is their purpose will talk about hearing and answering ‘the call.’ But the reality is that God has given every Christian a clear sense of direction as to what they are supposed to do. Even more to the point, it is a succinct instruction on how they are supposed to do what they do.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” ~1 Corinthians 10:31
Of course, Paul is here talking to the church in Corinth about matters of conscience, such as what food we put into our bodies. But if we are going to consider the temporal questions from this point of view, it only seems right that we would put the larger matters of our life, like vocation and purpose, through the same gauntlet of questions.
How can our identity and culture frame our ministry?
For as long as Rev. Robert Soto (MDiv 88, MA 88), can remember, he was searching for a God to believe in. A descendant of the Lipan Apache Tribe, he held many misconceptions about Christianity. But through a series of sovereign shifts, Soto met two young ladies (one would later become his wife) who invited him to Bible camp. At twenty-one years old, Soto attended the camp and came to know the God of the Bible and was transformed from a depressed drug addict into a totally new person in Christ.
Hungry to learn and grow in his faith, Soto felt God’s purpose was for him to attend Bible college and then seminary. A friend referred him to Grace, where he graduated with an MDiv and an MA in Christian School Administration in just three years.
Looking for full-time vocational ministry, Soto knew that he wanted to use his culture as a vehicle to express who he was as a Christian. After all, there is no greater missionary to your family and culture than you, right? Soto understood that many Native Americans would have the same questions and experience the same misconceptions that he had before coming to know Christ.
Have you ever danced to declare the Gospel?
His searching led Soto to minister through feather dancing, a Native American dance that opened doors for him to evangelize in 21 nations and 46 states. Through it, hundreds have professed faith in Christ, to the glory of God.
Additionally, in 1988, the Charis Fellowship was looking to expand its reach in Texas and asked Soto to be part of it. Soto started praying about what a ministry to Native Americans might look like. To effectively share the Gospel in their context, he began writing Native-inspired worship songs and preaching narrative-driven sermons. While the Native American New Life Center has faced its share of spiritual warfare, Soto has remained steadfast to the call God gave him to reach his community for Christ.
Guiding him through the highs and lows of ministry has been Paul’s principle found in 1 Corinthians 10:31. This was not just a verse he declared in ministry contexts, but one he had come to live by through other struggles during his life.
A little-known fact about Soto is that he has severe dyslexia. He quips that graduating high school was a monumental feat, so earning his doctorate in theology was an outright miracle. To make things even more challenging, Soto worked his way through college, earning money as a professional alligator and snake handler.
But all of those struggles pale in comparison to one of Soto’s darkest days.
“On March 30, 1979, my son, Robert “Robby” James Soto passed away soon after his first birthday; we only had 381 days with him,” said Soto. “One of our counselors told us, ‘If you can survive the death of a baby, you can survive anything.’ Hope came only by the grace of God that everything was going to be alright. Through that heartache, we learned that even through death there is hope in Christ – the only hope for tomorrow.”
What will you do to the glory of God?
So what does your story look like? You can be sure that it’s not completely written, and perhaps the most glorious aspect of God’s purpose is still to come. What will you do to ensure that everything you say or do is done to the glory of God?
For Soto, he describes his time at Grace as the best three years of his life, knowing that it was in Winona Lake that the command to live by faith and not by sight was first cemented in his life.
Receiving a master of divinity degree from GTS will provide you with the framework to succeed in various ministry roles. With eight distinct concentrations, you can build your ministry skills to match your unique calling, whether behind the pulpit or on the dance floor.