Ministry has three levels of calling:
- call to faith
- call to minister
- call to ministry
Every Christian is called in some way. I’ve heard the phrase “called to ministry” through books, conversations, and in messages for as long as I can remember.
In Preventing Ministry Failure by Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffmann, the authors discern that calling is one of the foundations in the life of an effective vocational minister.
Four questions can give you valuable insights, whether you are beginning to sense God calling you into ministry or are already serving in ministry.
- How did you sense God initiating your call into the ministry?
- How has God maintained your sense of calling?
- Where in Scripture have you sensed your call being validated?
- How has your faith community validated and supported your sense of call (or the process of discerning it for the first time)?
Take time to answer these questions to help ignite the fire of God’s call on your life. You may discover the call has changed, and that’s ok. Trying to work outside your call to ministry can be detrimental.
Here are my answers to these questions:
How did you sense God initiating your call into the ministry?
As a high school student, I watched ministry leaders when attending retreats, conferences and camps. I would think how much fun it would be lead like those folks were. I figured everyone thought that; later I found out not everyone did. I couldn’t shake it. My senior year of high school, one of the last times I was a camper, I sensed God calling me to ministry during a service. Though I headed toward a path of pastoral ministry, that never seemed to be the right fit. Doors kept opening for other ministry opportunities. I look back now after 30 years and can see God at work as I continued to live in that calling, most often being the person standing in front leading, speaking and singing.
How has God maintained your sense of calling?
Opportunities to serve have consistency come in this unique ministry for nearly 30 years. God has blessed me with a sense of success and fulfillment in this work. Numerous people have encouraged me and confirmed aspects of the calling in my life. God has used the prayers and support of many others to keep the calling and ministry rolling in my heart and life.
Where in Scripture have you sensed your call being validated?
New things come to mind through Scripture on a regular basis. A big one recently was noticing how much detail about worship God gave to his people in the Old Testament. This observation was important to me since I am not always the best detail person. It gave me a sense that God is still teaching me how to make details happen and happen well.
Another time I looked up chapter 6 verse 12 (for my birthday, June 12) in every book in the Bible that had that verse. That fun little exercise uncovered powerful verses: 2 Timothy 6:12 (fight the good fight) and Ephesians 6:12 (for our struggle is not against flesh and blood in the Armor of God section).
One obscure verse stuck out to me, Leviticus 6:12 (The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it.)
I don’t know how many times I have thought about that verse in conversations with ministry leaders and students, in my early morning blog writing and podcasting, and during early morning church set ups and sound checks. That verse seems to validate the call in my life. I want to keep the fire on the altar burning: tend to it and not let it go out.
How has your faith community validated and supported your sense of call (or the process of discerning it for the first time)?
Words of encouragement to me over the years have been invaluable: people praying for me; pastors inviting me to share; and people responding to music, messages and events we have hosted. All those interactions in my faith community have propelled me. In addition, the constant connection to my home church has been powerful. I began attending when I was in high school and now serve on staff. That group of folks and leaders have consistently added fuel to my calling in ministry from the beginning until now.
I like these questions because they put the focus on God’s work and leading in our lives.
Take time to answer them. If you’d like to share your answers with me, I’d love to hear them in the comments or through email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This book is a good one. You can get a copy here.