Monday, July 22, 2013

God’s Calling To Ministry

Dr. Al Mohler has reposted an article online regarding discerning a call to ministry. His focus is geared particularly to preaching. However, he opens up the call at the end of the article to other servants.

My first response is always that my heart leaps at this kind of message. On some deep level I personally would love to be a pastor. I never turn down an opportunity to preach if I’m available to do so.

My second response is content resignation that I’m not called to be pastor. I recognize a deficiency in my gifting at present that would make me a substandard pastor. If called upon to serve, I would probably prayerfully accept. However, I would be utterly dependent on God for carrying me through the task of ministering to the spiritual condition of a body of believers. Dr. Mohler indicates an outward call. It’s likely that my weaknesses are evident enough that there is little confirmation from others that this is something I’m called to.

I’m not bad as a preacher. On the other hand, I’m not that great either. I need a lot more practice. I have a heart for teaching, but preaching, while relying on a good part of teaching, is geared toward a supernatural persuasiveness that reconciles people with God, sanctifies believers and unifies them under a common ideology and purpose that we know as the gospel and the great commission. I’ve experienced the moving of the Holy Spirit in the pulpit to accomplish what I cannot on my own, particularly at times on the mission field. What most strikes me at the times when I have entered the pulpit is a chilling sense of imminent danger for the people before me. No matter what expectations they have, they must encounter the living God and I am responsible if I succumb to some temptation to teach what isn’t true. It is incumbent on whoever stands before the Body of Christ and presumes to preach to faithfully convey what has been given to us to know from the Bible and nothing else. Lives hang in the balance and there is a spiritual battle for them.

Although I’m not called at present to be a pastor, I am nonetheless a Christian. If you truly trust the work of Christ on the cross, you are a Christian also. As part of the Body of Christ we are all charged with ministry. The Pastor is only one of many kinds of workers in the Kingdom of God. While I think Dr. Mohler is primarily focused on the call to full-time ministry, all of us are ministers. The call to be a pastor seems rather clear and I envy those who have such a clear call. For most of us, I think we don’t have a call to a particular function with such clarity. It can be frustrating to want to minister to people so badly it hurts and simply don’t know what to do. Nevertheless, we must diligently seek to apply what gifts we have.


  1. Excellent Article but one point I might mention. The position of pastor and elder are not interchangeable in the Bible. Pastoring is a spiritual gift whereas the elder or bishop of the church is the leader of the church. My point is that many elders/bishops in the church do not have the spiritual gift of pastoring. That is not to say that one must have the spiritual gift of pastoring to be a elder or bishop. It is more to say that there are many within the congregation that have the spiritual gift of pastoring and shepherding and are not able to exercise that gift because we think of the bishop or elder as the one to shepherd. We even call them "pastors" but really they should be called leaders, teachers, prophets, servants, etc. Just some food for thought, so even if you are not called to be a "pastor" you may be required to pastor/shepherd some that is if that is your spiritual gift.

    1. Tracy,
      That's a good point. However, not every church polity recognizes the difference between a pastor and an elder and not every theologian agrees there's a difference. I'm not up to debate that at this point, although I would probably agree with you on it. My own church only recognizes pastors and deacons and I don't have a problem supporting that system as a matter of unity. My position in the church is simply that of a member who tries to actively contribute positively with the gifts and abilities I've been given. Most of my opportunities lie outside of my church, but I don't see eldership functioning outside of the local congregation.

    2. Tracy: interesting. I've at times joked that though I'm not called to be a full-time pastor, I may have a calling as a sheepdog. And sometimes I think maybe that's not a joke. I think I would agree that there are some of us in the church who, although we're not formally pastors, nevertheless have a calling to some form of shepherding ministry. The sheepdog analogy may be apt - we're not called to be up front, leading, we're called to be running around among the sheep, ministering as we find problems that need a bit of shepherding.