The Call to Ministry - Part 2

March 6, 2018

 

In my last post I talked about the call to ministry and I explained that godliness must be the foundation of one's life if ministry is to be pursued.  

 

This cannot be compromised.  

 

The role of a pastor or ministry leader has far reaching ramifications - more so than any other profession.  In ministry we deal in the realm of the spiritual and men's and women's souls are at stake.  Too many have sought ministry with wrong motives be it popularity, wealth, or a desire to feel needed.  These motives will eventually rear their head and wreak havoc in a church.

 

For this reason, a person who feels called to ministry must first do the hard work of soul-searching to determine the motive is proper.  Second, the person must begin to work on living a godly life in all holiness (2 Peter 3:11).

 

Charles Spurgeon was one of the greatest preachers the world has ever known.  He is known as the "Prince of Preachers."  Spurgeon took his ministry call extremely seriously and he was adamant about instilling this same seriousness into any young person who though they wanted to enter ministry.

 

Spurgeon told young aspiring preachers, "Do not enter the ministry if you can help it." [1]. His point was to communicate the notion that the call to ministry is not a "fall-back" nor is it a "job" to jump in and out of.  Ministry is a calling and must be treated as such.

 

While Scripture does not give a clear litmus test for the call to ministry (other than the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1), there are some tests that a person can use to assess their call to ministry.

 

The remainder of this article will describe these tests, and hopefully it will be helpful to anyone who is contemplating the call to vocational ministry.

The Desire Test

 

"The first sign of the heavenly calling is an all intense, all-absorbing desire for the work." [2].  

 

This means that there must be a deep desire in the heart of a person for the work of ministry.  It is not a casual desire nor is it a fall-back, there must be a desire for ministry that compels the person.  

 

I remember when I first made the decision to go into ministry I told my parents that I could not think of anything that I wanted to give my life to more.  I remember specifically saying to my dad, "I can't think of anything more noble to give myself to."  

 

If you have been called to ministry one of the signs is that you will have a deep desire to be in ministry.  But it does not stop here.  Many have had the desire but lacked the second part of the test.

 

 

The Ability Test

 

"There must be aptness to teach and some measure of the other qualities needful for the office of public instructor." [3].  

 

Spurgeon emphasized the fact that a person who feels called to the ministry must possess the qualifications that are needed for the position.  Spurgeon cites aptness to teach as being a primary qualification.  Unlike Spurgeons time, however, there are some pastoral roles in churches that do not require frequent teaching.  Nevertheless, the overarching principle that Spurgeon is making is that there are skills that are necessary for the role and must be possessed by the aspiring pastor.

 

There are some churches that hold to the notion that "desire" and "heart" are the sole qualifiers for ministry.  This mindset has produced many well-meaning pastors who are completely unskilled for the work of ministry.

 

This is a shame.  Not only does it water-down the role of a minister, but it also puts the flock in jeopardy of being shoddily shepherded.

 

Aside from desire and heart the following are qualities/abilities that should be present in the life of an aspiring minister:

  • The ability to lead people

  • The ability to communicate effectively

  • The ability to make decisions

  • The ability to have vision

  • The ability to see a vision through

  • The ability to make tough decisions

  • The ability to press on in the face of criticism

These are just a few of the skills and abilities that should be present in the life of a person who desire to be in ministry.

 

 

The Confirmation Test

 

The confirmation test is one of the most important.  A person's call to ministry should be confirmed by a person of spiritual maturity who is already serving in ministry.  This confirmation is an endorsement that says, "I see/sense the call of God on your life for ministry and I believe that you are heading in the right direction."

 

This test should be confirmed by two or three trusted pastors who will speak truth and not simply pacify your desire.  The confirmation is used by God to confirm in your heart that others see a calling in your life as well.  It protects you and ensures that you are not venturing down a road that will be a dead-end. 

 

 

The Opportunity Test

 

The final test is completed with opportunity.  Ultimately, God provides the opportunity for a person to be placed in a position where they serve in ministry.  Certainly an opportunity does not guarantee indefinite ministry.  A minister must still grow in skill, pursue godliness, and retain the hunger to serve.

 

Whether you desire to be an overseas missionary or serve in the local church, the call to ministry is one that should be taken very seriously.  The stakes are too high for it not to be.

 

If you are waiting for an opportunity or wrestling with your call I hope that these tests will be helpful to you as you journey with God and allow Him to lead you into the place He has for you.

 

[1] Charles Hadden Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1954), 26.

 

[2] Ibid.

 

[3] Ibid., 28.

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