Are You Called to the Ministry? Questions to Ask, Factors to Consider

Are You Called to the Ministry?  Questions to Ask, Factors to Consider

In the prior articles we discussed how everyone is called to a ministry and that the real question to ask is “To what ministry are you called?”  Assuming that you have read those prior discussions, we have formulated some questions to help you along the road of understanding if you are called into a particular or a specific ministry, such as that of a Pastor, Missionary, Youth Pastor, Teacher, Church Planter, Evangelist, and so on.  Later, we will discuss the different callings, but for now, we will look at factors that are common to each.

I came to receive the Lord when I was 22 years of age and within 3 months I became a regular attendee of a small congregation.  (Regular in the sense that I was there every time the doors were open so that I could learn more about the God I gave my heart to.)  After about 6 months I was asked to assist in Sunday school teaching 4th graders.  From then on, I served the Lord in some manner of ministry.  I became a Sunday School leader, a Sunday School bus captain, a youth Pastor, a Bible school teacher, an outreach director, a Drama for Christ director and writer, a “cell group” leader, a visitation member, a Deacon and an Elder, and I formed my own street evangelism organization and sometimes filled the pulpit to preach for the Pastor.  For none of these did I sense a particular, specific call from God.  I participated in all of them because of the empowering of the Holy Spirit and my general calling to disciple others.

It wasn’t until I was 47 years of age that I received what I would say was a “call” from God to the ministry.  At that time I was a lawyer at the top of where I wanted to be, the managing attorney of a Legal Aid program.  My calling took me away from my career, away from my family, and my country.  I answered the call to be a missionary and move to Bolivia.

I asked myself about the following factors when I considered this call.  To that degree they are tested.

  1. Can you articulate your call?  “Write the vision, make it plain.”  Habakkuk 2:2.  If you cannot articulate your vision, your calling, right now, that’s ok-write what you know.  I believe the Lord will make it clear to you, but there are things you can do in faith to prepare (see below).  If you do know your calling, write it down, whether it is simple or very detailed.  You may not be ready to launch out right now, but write it down and let me also encourage you to write the steps you have in your mind and in your spirit that may be necessary to make your calling come to pass.  “For which of you desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost.”  Luke 14:28.  A Pastor told me this as I considered the call to the mission field and it was some of the best advice I received.   Pray over every step and ask God to confirm it.  Then, put it somewhere that you can review it on your next birthday and on each New Year’s Day.   “Wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.”  Hab. 2:3.
  2. Do others recognize your call?  When my Pastor at my local church asked me to be a Deacon I responded by saying that I wasn’t sure that I could devote the time that may be needed for the office and I asked what would be my duties.  He told me that I already did them.  I typically served the local congregation at dinners by making sure everything was ready and by cleaning up, I greeted newcomers, visited the sick and generally filled in the gaps.  He said that he was not asking me to do anything different, he was simply recognizing the call he saw on my life that I was already operating in.  His words were, “Deacons deke.  You already deke, so I just want to recognize you as a Deacon.”  I’m sure the word “deke” doesn’t exactly clear things up, but you get the idea.  My question to you then is this:  “Do others recognize that God has a call on your life?”
  3. Are you working in ministry now?  It never ceases to amaze me how many people tell me that they think they are called to the ministry, but have never worked in any ministry during their Christian life.  I’m not going to say that they aren’t called, but it is similar to telling me you are going to be in a rock band and you have never played an instrument and you can’t sing.  In other words, it can happen but it is not likely it will happen soon.  In the New Testament, the disciples trained with Jesus, Apollos trained with Aquilla and Priscilla, and Paul mentored others before they were released to their own ministry.  If you want to preach, start by teaching children.  If you are an evangelist, witness to your friends and disciple them.  If you have a desire to minister the church has plenty of places to get your start AND be of service to the body.   I was involved in all kinds of ministry and I can tell you I learned valuable lessons that helped me prepare for the mission field.
  4. The Burden  Jeremiah said, “Oh the walls of my heart!  My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent.” (4: 19)  He was talking about the burden he had to tell the prophecy that God had given him.  That was his calling and he could not hold back!  He had to speak.  He was burdened for his people who were to hear the prophecy and be warned and his heart was full of the message from God.  Whether you have a burden for those in your family, the neighborhood, the city or other countries, a burden is a factor in your calling.  A burden is nothing more than feeling compassion with a sense of urgency for those you want to reach.  That burden is not the only thing that determines you are called but it is a motivation for answering the call.
  5. The Desire  This is one of the most important factors for me.  Is being in ministry a desire of your heart?  Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  This scripture has a twofold meaning.  When you delight yourself in the Lord, God will give you a desire-it will be a Godly desire, and when you delight yourself in the Lord, God will grant you the desire that is in your heart.  Do you desire to serve God and others?  Is it your passion?  It is mine.  I can think of nothing else that makes me happy and satisfied.  When I am not ministering I am unfulfilled.  Why do you think I am writing this?

Tomorrow we continue with the factors to determining your calling.  Don’t miss it.

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One comment on “Are You Called to the Ministry? Questions to Ask, Factors to Consider
  1. This discussion has been very penealrvt in Canada for the last two years. There is a feeling among some that all this stuff gets in the way of doing evangelism and discipleship on campus. While I agree it is critical to meet with students face to face on campus and we never want to lose that, I’m concerned that the discussion leads to a dangerous polarization and unhealthy understanding of the big picture of building a movement on campus. At times, it comes across as the idea that the only real ministry is face to face with someone on campus.What is interesting to me is that as I have pounded the table asking, What should we stop doing so we can be on campus more? No one has ever given me an answer. People get frustrated by all these other things (a.k.a stuff ) that prevents them from real ministry but then will never give you a straight answer on what to cut nor do they stop doing any of these other time consuming things.The reality is that all of these things contribute to building a healthy local movement. We must see the big picture and the total cost of ownership here. Real ministry is not only meeting people on campus.Personally, I don’t think the answer is by necessarily cutting out stuff . I think the solution lies more in re-thinking how we structure, lead and staff a local ministry. Instead of creating polarizations about real ministry and the stuff that distracts us (which I’m not accusing you of but has happened in Canada) I think there are some deeper questions we need to ask.1. How can our staff work out of their strengths? Maybe we should through out the one-size fits all campus staff job description. Some people have a lid or 4 hours on campus a day. Others want more after 8.2. How can we engage volunteers more?3. What is the best way to structure a team to build a movement?4. What other skill sets and roles should be engaged on a local campus team besides just the guy who goes out to share his faith and lead Bible studies?5. How do we evaluate the effectiveness of all types of ministry activity and not just keep doing ineffective things?Lastly, I think it needs to be okay to have time to think, share, explore, network and do other things that aren’t necessarily life on life, but still contribute to movement building.From my perspective, the issue is more structural than a function of how a staff member spends their time.

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