Do I Feel Called to Full-Time Vocational Ministry?

If you ask me that question on Monday’s, my answer would sometimes be “no.” I told my congregation at Wichita Bible Church yesterday I am my worst critic when it comes to preaching and pastoring. And Monday’s tend to be a day of reflection for me and I often wallow is self-pity.

But I digress.

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.

First, I ask myself, “Is there a desire for me serve the church with my life?” Paul says he was compelled to preach (I Corinthians 9:16) and then wrote elsewhere that anyone who desires such an office of elder or pastor desires a noble thing (I Timothy 3:1). I have always believed that if a man can do anything else but enter the ministry, he should do it. Someone who is called to full-time ministry 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. 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. Answer to this question: “Yes!”

Second, I ask myself, “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. Answer to this question: “I believe so.”

Third, I ask myself, “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. Answer to this question: “Yes.”

Am I called to full-time vocational ministry? I ask myself that question almost weekly, and weekly God re-affirms this to me. What about you?

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2 comments

  1. Let’s just see about those counseling gifts of yours! How would you counsel someone who thinks he is called, possesses the passion you describe but his church does not affirm the calling?

    1. Curtis, I suppose it depends a little on the man and the church. Are they both sound doctrinally and spiritually mature? If so, I would encourage the man to listen to his church. The church is like a vetting institution. When you look at the calls to church ministry in the N.T., you will find the church calling its leaders – not the other way around.

      If the man still feels strongly he is called to the ministry, I would encourage him to serve in the church as a shepherd and patiently wait upon God to reveal that level of giftedness to others.

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