Are You Called to the Ministry? Questions and Factors 6-10 (or 1-5 part II)
Today, we are continuing to discuss factors to consider whether you are called into ministry. Remember, in an earlier article in this same category of Calling, we discussed how all Christians are called into a general calling through the word of God. However, it cannot be denied that some are specifically called as in Paul’s calling, Timothy’s and the disciples just to name a few. Yesterday we discussed 5 important factors to consider and below we are looking at 5 more. (The first five factors are at www.missioncalling.com or by clicking the Recent Post Are You Called to the Ministry? Questions to Ask, Factors to Consider). These are not the only factors. As with most everything with God, there is no specific formula. The best answers and plans of God are revealed through a deep relationship with God beginning with his word and prayer. Below are factors to consider:
- Counsel “Plans are established by counsel.” Proverbs 20:18. There are many verses that speak about the wisdom of seeking Godly counsel to help you with your plans. This also goes back to what was said in the previous article about others recognizing your call. If you have not sought counsel, direction and help about your vision, do so after your write down your plan. Seek out more than one counselor but start with your pastor. He probably knows you better than anyone else and has already spent time praying for you. Ask the pastor if he knows someone else that can give you advice as well. This can be humbling but “in the abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 24:6.
- The Sacrifice This is another top priority factor for me. Are you prepared to sacrifice? David said that he would not give to God an offering that cost him nothing. 1 Chronicles 21:24. David laid out a principal of sacrifice when Ornan offered to give oxen to David for free so that David could make an offering to the Lord. David refused and acknowledged that it was not his offering if it didn’t cost him something. When I answered the call to the mission field, I quit my job as an attorney, my wife and I sold our home and left for Bolivia without the promise of any ministry there. There was much sacrifice but we were walking by faith and it became a great blessing. We should not become pastors or preachers or missionaries because we want respect, we think it is a good job or because it is a great adventure. We become ministers because we answer God’s call to do so, no matter what the cost. That may mean that you hold a job at a factory and still work hard as a Pastor. I know a man who has done that for the last 10 years. I know a woman who has a children’s church. No adults and therefore, no income. The church is in a poor section of a city where kids have nothing, often no food. She uses her own money to pay rent, often feed the children, and provide craft money to aid her lessons. In so doing, she has lived in her own poverty. But she has raised many children in the Lord over the last 9 years. I can tell of many more stories, but the question that you need to ask yourself is this: If I made no money at this ministry that God is calling me to, if I had to use my “free” time, if I received no respect, would I still do it?
- Preparation T.D. Jakes says that time used for preparation is never time wasted. I can say that is certainly true in my life and even with a degree in Biblical studies and my wife’s Master’s in Intercultural Studies, and all our experience in ministry we still feel like we don’t know enough. We simply want to serve the Lord the best way we can, making the most of our representation of Jesus. There are many men and women of God who have gone before us. We would be irresponsible not to listen to their counsel and education. Paul told Timothy “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV. The first place to look for that education for ministry is in your church. Let your Pastor mentor you. Volunteer to work with him as an intern. Then, university, Bible school, or missionary training programs. This website will soon begin a page on resources that will include books and training courses to help you. But seek to become educated in many areas so that you can relate to others and if you are called to the mission field, begin learning another language as soon as possible.
- Can you do something else? The story goes that there was a faithful pastor who had a faithful son that came to him one day and said, “Dad, I want to be a pastor.” The faithful pastor responded by saying to his son, “Son, if you can do anything else, do it!” One point the faithful pastor was making was that if his son was called to ministry, he would not be able to do anything else and have peace. Jonah tried to do something else. His call was not a desire of his heart and he certainly wasn’t happy about it (although he is an exception), but Jonah could not do anything else. He had to preach to Ninevah. Jeremiah could not hold back from his ministry even when his life was threatened. He said that his heart was beating wildly, he had to prophecy, he could not keep silent. If you are called, your calling will always be inside of you, knocking on your heart and peace and fulfillment will only come by answering that call.
- Confirmation. God often confirms by two or more witnesses. While Rhonda and I were sure of our calling to the mission field, we were not as sure about our destination. As we prayed about Bolivia, confirmation after confirmation came across our path, from people talking about Bolivia, to news about the needs in Bolivia, to doors miraculously opening to Bolivia. Pray and ask God for confirmation and then, watch for it, even writing them down so as not to forget. Those words will also help you in times of doubt that the enemy will bring to your mind.
None of these factors are absolute. In other words, if you cannot answer one of these questions with a positive response, it doesn’t mean you are out of ministry and clearly not called by God. These are simply guides. If you are answering in the negative you may want to re examine your life at this time and see if you can change the negative to a positive response.
Let me encourage you to take the next steps in addition to those factors above: Pray and ask for Wisdom. God says he will give wisdom to those who ask. James 1:5. Secondly, know God’s will. God has expressed his will in the word. Study it and you find guidance.
Finally, if you are struggling with God’s call, write to me at the comment box by clicking Leave a comment, below. Comments are not posted without approval so they are kept private if you wish them to be. It may take a couple of days for your comment to appear if you do not request privacy.
If you have a further opinion or direction, please feel free to comment.