Working with young leaders, one of the most common questions I find myself fielding is, “How do I know if I’m called to ministry?” And while there are some good biblical verses we could point to or theological answers that could be given I’d like to get very practical with you for a moment. If you take the time to ask, and listen, to the stories of people who have been called into full time Christian Ministry you’re likely to hear some very similar responses that generally include the following four components.
#1 Deep Sense of Burden or Passion
A calling to ministry typically begins with a deep sense of burden or passion. It’s this idea that something is wrong, someone needs to do something about it, and maybe that someone is me. I can remember my own calling to ministry beginning this way as a young teenager. I felt a deep sense of responsibility and burden for the spiritual wellbeing of my friends (even though my lifestyle was ironically in no condition to do much about it). I can remember praying at night before sleep, in tears begging God to use me to influence thousands of people for Him. I also felt compelled through those prayer times that God didn’t just want my “heart”, or even my career, but my life.
#2 Ministry Experimentation
The typical next step that a calling to ministry takes is actually experimenting with ministry through volunteering and discovering your gifting and place in the Body of Christ. I was 17 years old and scared to death when my Pastor asked me to lead a Jr. High Sunday School Class. What would I teach, would they listen to me, could I do it, could I keep those unruly Jr. Highers under control?
#3 Affirmation by the Church
Who knew that Jr. High Sunday School Class would actually go well? I know, shocking right? But it did go well and people began to believe in me, and that God could use me. And I began to believe it too. Other leaders in the Church, particularly my Pastor recognized and affirmed God’s call to ministry in my life.
#4 Preparation and Training
The final component that you’ll regularly hear from those who have been called to ministry is that they experience a period of training and development that prepares them for full time Christian work. For me this would mean going to college (that is after a short 2 year stop at Jr. College to get my grades up and my Associates Degree…I thought I had better things to do in High School than go to High School) getting a Christian education, formal biblical training, mentoring and internships.
Even though I didn’t list them here I’m interested in some verses or biblical suggestions that you’d recommend young leaders consider when trying discover if they’re called to ministry? I’d love your input so leave a comment!
Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation