Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Called to Pastoral Ministry?: A Question to Consider

The call to ministry is a serious question that many consider every year. Perhaps someone is reading these words right now struggling with God's call on their life. Entering gospel ministry is not something that should be taken lightly and thus any guide that points us in the right direction is imperative.

Typically, the question comes down to both the internal and ecclesiastical call. The internal call regards the candidate themselves. Do they believe God has called them? Is there a strong passion for ministry in general and pastoral ministry in particular? A general rule of thumb is that if you could be content doing anything else, then pursue that. Many have confessed to fighting the call for ministry in pursuit of other interests and careers only to surrender later in life.

The other is the ecclesiastical call. Does the local church affirm the internal call? Do they see the Spirit of God at work in your life? Is the power of God evident in your life? If the local church would not and could not recommend you to another congregation, then perhaps you are not qualified or called into ministry.

I concur with this general assessment. Of course more goes into this, but when counseling those struggling with God's call on their life, I always begin with this general assessment.

But then I quickly draw their attention to another question to consider. When tragedy strikes in the church (perhaps a teenager is killed in a car wreck or one of the church's leaders suddenly dies of cancer), do you feel called to go and minister to the family?

I received a call once from a youth minister friend who had been struggling the called to pastoral ministry. One of his students had suddenly passed in a tragic accident and was asking for my counsel on how to approach the situation. Weeks later we discussed how everything went and he confessed how uncomfortable and difficult it was. No pastor is comfortable in such situations. Death is our greatest enemy. Yet every pastor should feel called to such situation. If you do not have a strong sense of calling to minister to people in the worse moments of life and believe, without a doubt, that the gospel is the only means of comfort and grace, then do not enter ministry. But if you are compelled to comfort with grace, then perhaps God is in fact calling you.

This third question is a crucial one for me. Next to criticism, perhaps nothing else drains a pastor more than the emotional roller coaster of tragedies and the sufferings of his sheep. In a single day a pastor could be called to weep with the suffering and rejoicing with new parents. If you do not have a sense of calling for that, then stay away.
Post a Comment