Thoughts on “Ministry” and the Call to Preach
I believe in ministry! I believe that every believer is spiritually gifted to serve in the ministry of the local church as taught in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12. I also believe that God gives some men as specific leaders in the work of the ministry as taught in Ephesians 4:11-16. Paul writes that he was “put” into the ministry; Isaiah appears to have “volunteered” and God accepted his offer to serve. The disciples were “invited” to follow Jesus and trained to serve Him. Amos was “taken” as he was working on his farm. John the Baptist apparently was “chosen from his mother’s womb” (I Tim 1:1/Isa 6:8-9/Mark 1:19-20/Amos 7:14-15/Luke 1:13-17).
Were they called? What does that mean? And how does one know? Here are several thoughts in answer to those questions:
- We should all serve in whatever capacity we can and with our God-given spiritual gifts. I even believe that if we are walking in the Spirit, God will enable us to serve in a multiplicity of ways and with whatever spiritual gift that is required for us to do so. We should serve in the local church and should serve our spouses and our families. We should shine the light of Christianity to those around us by our good works. Jesus said that doing so would bring glory to God (Matt. 5:16).
- We should perhaps encourage “volunteering” over “surrendering,” especially if we are speaking to younger people. One service filled with peer pressure and “preacher” pressure may not be enough to help a young person to count the cost and to adequately discern God’s will. I would even think that we should never push or shame a teen into “following through” on an emotional decision they made in a high pressured service. Instead, encourage them to seek God, follow His leading, and use their gifts and abilities for Him whether they ever enter “full-time” ministry or not.
- Apply the Bible practically rather than emotionally. Charles Spurgeon (in Lectures to my Students, pp. 23-28) teaches that a “call” is a culmination of several matters. It is an overwhelming desire and burden for the work. It will involve an “aptness to teach and some measure” of the gifts and abilities necessary to do the work. It will be accompanied by some measure of “conversion-work” as a result of one’s efforts and one’s “preaching should be acceptable to the people of God”. Simple thoughts, but very helpful! And worth the reading in their entirety.
I get asked this question quite often: How do I know if I am called to preach? Using Spurgeon’s thoughts have often been a help. Remembering the “time factor” is too. A burden can come and go, but if God is calling you, He will faithfully continue to do so and will lead you in such a way as to accomplish the work (I Thes. 5:24).
I know a young man who is in Bible college and is struggling. He hates it. He is discouraged. He has no joy and no victory. He lacks friends. He lacks funds. I texted him recently and suggested that he forget about “full-time” ministry and find a job and serve the Lord in a local church with the gifts he has and the resources that God will give him in that job. He was dumbfounded and actually a bit offended. He told me that I was the only person who had ever suggested that to him. Perhaps he has been taught that ministry is the highest calling and he wants to be the best and should not “step down” to do anything else. He may certainly be called. I don’t know. It may also be that he is mislead into thinking that some are more “special” because they serve in ministry. I disagree with that idea. I serve in ministry because God put it into my heart and gave me gifts and abilities to do it. He opened doors and through the years gave us great fruit. I would hasten to point out, however, that I have many Christian friends who work a “normal” job and yet serve the Lord with their gifts and abilities and resources just like I do. They raise Godly children and have great marriages. They win souls and impact others in the church. They live Christianity in every kind of environment possible. They are not given to be “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers” (Eph 4:11) but they are serving the Lord nonetheless! Quite frankly, we need both in the local church.
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.
As always, thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,