How Do You Know If You Are Called to Ministry?
In the sermon on Sunday morning, I mentioned that you could come here to the blog for more information on how to know if you are called to go into ministry. If you’ve made your way here, know that I am delighted that you are asking this question!
There are three questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you have a strong desire to go into ministry?
2. Do you have the right abilities for vocational ministry?
3. Does the church community affirm your ability and calling?
Q1 Do you have a strong desire to go into ministry?
Is ministry something you want to do as a vocation? In 1 Timothy 3:1, Paul writes, “Whoever desires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” The Greek word that is translated as “desire” indicates a yearning so intense that the word can also be translated as “lust.” He means that you have to have a very strong desire to give your life to ministry.
Q2 Do you have the right abilities for vocational ministry?
Take a moment and read 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. In these two chapters, the issue of ability falls into two sub-categories, character and competence. There are important character qualities that are essential to those in ministry. For example, trustworthiness, a commitment to Scripture, a commitment to family, an ability to control your temper (people will test you!), and freedom from greed (this is not a job for making money). In terms of competence, examples from the text include the ability to handle the Scriptures, the willingness to provide instruction, and the confidence to confront people when necessary.
Now let me say that underdeveloped talent or imperfect character do not disqualify you. Most ministers have imperfect character and talent takes awhile to develop. I heard a baseball team manager being interviewed about his team’s chances in the playoffs. He was asked about the experience level of some of the younger talent. His response was something like this, “Yes, this is their first experience in the playoffs. But they’ve been playing this game their entire lives.” It may be awhile before you are ready for a ministry position, but you need to have some ability that God can develop.
Q3 Does the church community affirm your ability and calling?
John Calvin called this the “outer call.” (The inner call is the desire to minister while the outer call is your ability and the affirmation of the church.) Pastors or elders see something in you and say, “I see in you the ability to serve in the church in this way or that way.” Regrettably, this is a neglected step in the modern church as people make a solitary decision that ministry is the right vocation for them and do not seek the affirmation or help of the church.
The church needs more people to take up vocational ministry. It’s an amazing calling!