Having returned from Jerusalem (12.25) Barnabas and Saul (along with John-Mark) are back in the church at Antioch. Also in the church were multiple prophets and teachers; Simeon who was called Niger (possibly the same Simeon of Luke 23.26), Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
This inner core of leaders were worshiping the Lord and fasting, serving the Lord in the church community, when they received a message from the Spirit:
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
(Acts 13.2b, NET)
They all continue to fast and pray and then they lay their hands on them and sent them off. Barnabas and Saul are formally commissioned here for the work to which [God] had called them and sent out from the church at Antioch.
Notice with me that their call came whilst already worshiping and fasting, whilst already serving the Lord:
“While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said…”
(Acts 13.2a, NET, emphasis added)
The word we read as ‘serving‘ in our English bibles is often used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) to talk of “the service performed by priests and Levites in the tabernacle (Exod 28:35, 43; 29:30; 30:20; 35:19; 39:26; Num 1:50; 3:6, 31) and the temple (2 Chr 31:2; 35:3; Joel 1:9, 13; 2:17, and many more examples)”. ¹
For you and for me, we see that the call to a specific ministry and task came whilst Barnabas and Saul were already serving. They were doing what they could where they were before the Lord called them to something more. They weren’t holding out for the ‘big job’ or waiting for the right opportunity, they were getting on with what needed to be done exactly where they were when the Lord called them to a specific ministry and task (see Amos 1 for another example ²).
We ought to be doing the same too: there is plenty to be done within the community that you are already a part of. If you have desires to serve the Lord in great and powerful ways, that begins exactly where you are right now.
¹ – netbible.org