I recently had a conversation with a new friend about hearing God’s “call” into ministry. As I thought about it, the realization hit me: I was never called into ministry.
The truth is God rarely gives calls, as much as he gives burdens.
Most people in ministry would probably tell you that they never heard a call to do ministry; most likely they feel like they simply fell into ministry. There was a need in the church and they filled it. Last month, I met a Kids Director that was recruited by the senior pastor of his church to “fill-in” as an interim until the church could find a full-time kids pastor. That was 18 years ago! He jokes that he’s sure his pastor stopped looking around 2 years ago or so.
There are moments/stories that shape your call, but they are never as obvious as you think.
Elijah heard God in a whisper, not in the earthquake, fire or whirlwind. Sometimes we forget that. We would do well in remembering that God’s call comes in subtlety rather than blatancy. We all have seminal moments that help define our call, but they don’t happen all at one instance. Like the coming together of puzzle pieces to form a grand image, God’s call comes to us in pieces through the daily situations and circumstances of life. It takes perspective to turn and look through those moments and see the hand of providence.
Maybe my story will help illustrate it for you:
I was 8 years old when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Unlike most kids my age, I was the first in my family to make that decision, and God supernaturally used that circumstance to save the rest of my family. Including my alcoholic father at the time. By 15, I was one of the most active members of my youth group, traveling, playing on the worship team, even preaching to my peers. As a junior in high school I started a Bible study with another friend that ended up being the venue for 8 students receiving Christ during my senior year of high school.
All those should’ve been obvious signs that God had some sort of calling on my life, but as a senior in high school I couldn’t see the puzzle pieces coming together. I just had to make a bold step and follow the burden that God put in my heart to follow ministerial studies. No one prophetically spoke ministry over me or told me that I would one day move to OKC or even that I would be a pastor. The only thing I knew was to obey the burden.
Sometimes the burden in your gut is more obvious than the call in your ears. There was clearly a call to full-time vocational ministry on my life, but I was blind to it until I stepped out in faith onto uncertain waters.
Jesus only gave his disciples one call, “follow me.” To be frank, he gave you the same one: “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Rookie, don’t wait for a call when God has clearly given you a burden.
If you are seriously considering ministry and would like coaching or practical advice on the topic, please feel free to get in touch with me via Facebook or Twitter. Also check out my previous blog post which outlines some practical steps: Help! I Think God Is Calling Me Into Full-time Ministry!