The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
How do you know if you are called to full-time (or vocational) or ministry? It’s a question with much debate and worth much consideration.
When I was a freshman in high school, I began wondering if God wanted me to spend my life serving Him in the church as a vocation. I was very involved in my youth group at the time at Tulsa Bible Church. I had a youth pastor named Joe who was serving the Lord in a capacity I aspired to be like.
So, when I think about my personal calling from God on my life for full-time ministry, I believe the answer can be narrowed down to a series of three primary questions I have continually asked myself since I believe God began to make me aware of His vocational plan for my life.
#1 – “Is there a desire for me serve the church with my life?”
Paul says he was compelled to preach – “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (I Cor 9:16) and then wrote elsewhere that anyone who desires such an office of elder or pastor desires a noble thing (I Tim 3:1).
I have always believed that if a man can do anything else but enter the ministry, he should do it. Zenas Bicket writes in his book The Effective Pastor, “If you can be happy outside the ministry, stay out. But if the solemn call has come, don’t run.” Someone who is called will have an unquenchable desire to serve the Lord in the local church and won’t find any satisfaction in anything else until he has adhered to that calling.
He may be content doing other things but will not experience the blessing of being in the center of God’s will until he is serving God in His church. For myself, the desire to pastor in the church has been present since late high school. Even in the last ten years when I functioned in a bi-vocational role (working for the church and working outside the church), my desire was still to be full-time at a church somewhere. And I have also discovered that any time I have moved away from that calling to pursue some “secular” employment, the desire to pastor grows even stronger.
#2 – “Is there giftedness for the work of pastoral ministry?”
The Bible says that God will enable and equip the man for the work he calls him to. Part of that enablement is for the qualifications according to I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. For myself, I have recognized pastoral gifts (e.g., teaching/preaching, administration, love for people and a care for their spiritual well-being, leadership, etc.) since high school. And even though they were immature and undeveloped and the raw material was there to be nurtured for His glory for His church.
You never “arrive” in meeting each qualification with 100% perfection, but there will be enough pattern of behavior to verify that such a man fits the role of elder/pastor.
#3 – “Do others confirm my giftedness?”
In other words, there should be a corporate or public acknowledgement of the calling by others who evaluate the evidence of my giftedness and testify to the fruit of my ministry. Again, as I mentioned above, since high school I have sense the calling of God on my life. Part of that sense has been others in the context of the local church affirming my giftedness and ability to serve in such a vocation. And whenever I have strayed from that calling to pursue something else, I have had people in my life like my wife Andrea or others who have rebuked me to be obedient to God’s vocational calling.
Once an individual can answer all three of these question with “Yes,” a man is likely fit for the ministry.