Hearing God calling you is an honor. A great honor. It could be a call to follow him as he extends his hand to guide you navigate this perilous world. Or God calls you to a life of honor and glory by giving you an exceptional gift; you work magic with your hands, you bring down the heavens with your voice or you reveal hidden mysteries of this world through numbers or words.
Indeed, God has called you to something glorious. He has called you to be a divine participant in his creative genius. Isn’t that wonderful?
God called you into his family. And since before you were even born, he called you to be a partaker of his divine nature and to share in his glory. Yet, God calls some into ministry. Jesus Christ is calling pastors and other ministers of the word to be a steward of his voice and shepherds of his flock.
It’s easy to recognize you’re your vocational calling. If you have a knack with numbers and love building up things from scratch, you’re probably called to be an engineer or architect. But if you’re one of those who like seeing what happens when you mix up things, maybe you should pursue a career in chemistry.
But it’s not that easy discerning your call to the ministry. You have probably heard of successful football players who hang up their boots and take up the Bible. I know someone who was a successful cobbler but he quit his job for ministry the day he received an envious promotion at work.
How do you know if it’s true you’re hearing God calling you into ministry? It’s definitely not easy as discovering you’re not good at math but storytelling instead. In this post, I would like to help you discover if God is calling you to ministry through the listens I learned from Jason K. Allen’s Discerning Your Call to Ministry. And watching those who claim they heard God calling them.
What Does the Bible say About God Calling Ministers of the Word
The Old Testament is awash with compelling examples of men and women God called for a specific purpose. Abraham heard God calling him out of the Ur of the Chaldeans. God promised Abraham that he will make him a father of many nations. Later on, we discover that God actually called Abraham to be a prophet.
You probably know the exhilarating story of God calling Moses. While tending his father-in-law’s sheep, Moses heard a voice calling him from the burning bush. Another illustrious example is that of Samuel. While sleeping in the house of God, Samuel heard a voice calling him and he mistook it for Eli’s.
Throughout the OT, God never lacked a new innovative way of calling his servants. You know of several people who heard God calling them audibly. God called others to a specific task only later to discover the task was a preparation of a greater job. Then they are others He called through prophets. For example, God called David through Samuel, and Elisha through Elijah.
But if you listen to the narrations of how people called most of the Pentecostal pastors trolling the Zimbabwean spiritual atmosphere you will be shocked. They all have a similar story:
I had a problem (at work, at home or in the body) and I visited a prominent church leader in Nigeria (or Ghana). The man of God prophesied to me that God had called me to ministry. So, I came back to Zimbabwe and started this church.
The most captivating story I heard is a rehash of how God called Ezekiel Guti, founder of the largest Pentecostal church in Zimbabwe.
I was in the mountains praying and fasting for forty days and forty nights, and I heard God calling me. He said, “Son, I have work for you. I have anointed you to be a minister of the word to all the four corners of the earth.”
Of course, the earth is not a square, but you get the point. These stories make me wonder, when did God stop being innovative and mysterious? Why is everyone only hearing God calling them through West African pastors? Do you really have to fast like you’re on a hunger strike to hear God calling you to ministry?
Jesus Christ walked up to Matthew and called him to be a fisher of man. Matthew did not fast or go anywhere to hear the call. Paul was on his way to Damascus when he heard God calling him to ministry. After hearing from God and much prayer, the church set aside Paul and Silas to be ministers of the word.
The more you read the book of Acts, the more you realize God calls people in different ways and at different times and using different circumstances. But the important thing is knowing that the voice you heard is the voice of God.
Sometimes, we get too excited and mistake our fleshly desires as God’s call. The desire to be famous and rich led many young people to claim they heard God calling them to be prophets or apostles. The result is a disaster and gross unfaithfulness to God’s calling.
10 Questions that Will Make You Know if God is Calling You to Ministry
Is God calling you to ministry?
If you answered yes or I think so, that’s great. But how do you know? Are really sure you have heard God calling you to ministry?
Let’s revisit how God called Samuel.
Samuel heard God calling him, although at first, he thought it was Eli. He wasn’t sure like anyone who has heard God calling him to ministry. When God calls you, you’re normally not certain whether it’s God speaking or your fleshly desires.
Little Samuel ran to the only master he knew. He knew Eli’s voice and understood Eli’s authority. God had appointed Eli to be the voice of God in all Israel. Eli realized it was God calling Samuel.
I love what Eli did. He taught little Samuel how to answer when you hear God calling you. I believe this is a lost art of spiritual leadership. A good spiritual leader teaches his or her charge how to discern a call to ministry.
[bctt tweet=”A good spiritual leader teaches his or her charge how to discern a call to ministry.” username=”VaSanganyado”]
This is exactly what Jason K. Allen does in Discerning Your Call to Ministry: How to Know for Sure and What to Do About It. Reading this book was like sitting under Mopane tree drinking maheu – sweet opaque beer – with a village elder. With each sip of the alcohol-free beverage, you gulp a dose of timeless wisdom.
Jason K. Allen is the President and Associate Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Sometimes the words shake you vigorously like a winnowing basket. Challenging your long-held beliefs on what it means to be called by God into ministry. If you think you cannot be easily shaken, then consider these 10 questions:
- Do you desire the ministry?
- Does your character meet God’s expectations?
- Is your household in order?
- Has God gifted you to preach and teach his Word?
- Does your church affirm your calling?
- Do you love the church?
- Is the gospel and the Great Commission your passion?
- Are you engaged in fruitful ministry?
- How ready are you to defend the faith?
- Are you willing to surrender?
Imagine, if all the young people starting churches across Africa would stop and answer these questions. How many will continue claiming they heard God calling them to start a church? I believe less than 10% of all these apostles and prophets can answer affirmatively to 50% of these questions.
Allen explored these questions in Discerning Your Call to Ministry. Using personal anecdotes, he offered comprehensive answers and guides for anyone who think they’re called to ministry. One thing I love about this book is how it’s grounded in the Pastoral letters.
If you think God is calling you to be a pastor, Allen gave a practical advice that I am taking up too: read all the pastoral letters. Don’t just read them, but live them and allow God’s word to transform and shape you into a vessel worthy of honor.
3 Dangers of Unfaithfulness to God’s Calling to Ministry
As I read, Allen’s Discerning Your Call to Ministry, I remembered a story I heard I Bible College.
A local church gave a traveling preacher the pulpit. Everything went well until a young boy walked in. The preacher called the kid to the pulpit and proclaimed before the church, “God is calling this young man into ministry. I see a mighty man of valor.”
Of course, people cheered and they were lots of Amens. A few minutes after the kid walked out of the church, there was commotion outside. The young pastor-elect had stolen something and other kids were baying for his blood.
Question. Do you think God really called the kid to be a minister of the Word?
Let’s find out from these three insightful quotes from Discerning Your Call to Ministry.
[bctt tweet=” Any revelation which is apart from scripture is deception.” username=”VaSanganyado”]
1. Unfaithfulness to God’s Word
I once attended a church service where the preacher misrepresented, misquoted and misread the Bible. He loved the church and, I’m sure he loved God. Yet, he was not faithful to the word or God’s calling. He twisted Scripture to meet his ulterior motives. That’s very sad, yet very common (2 Timothy 2:15).
Ministers will be judged for their faithfulness, not their academic accomplishments, but it is impossible to be faithful without being rightly equipped.
– Jason K. Allen
2. Unfaithfulness to God’s People
Zimbabwe is in an economic crisis and you would think those who claim to have heard God calling them are ministering hope to the masses. The majority are robbing people of their hard-earned cash through empty promises. Even worse, some of the preachers are raping women (John 21:16).
The faithful pastor moves gently among the flock, serving them with a hand of compassion, motivated by a heart of love.
– Jason K. Allen
3. Unfaithfulness to God
Jonah heard God calling him but he chose to run away. Many people suffered because of his disobedience. If you’re running away from a call to ministry, be careful some people might be in a storm because of you. It all goes back to the question: how much do you believe in God’s faithfulness and truth?
God’s call is too noble, too consequential, and too glorious to neglect.
– Jason K. Allen
Recently, at a church convention, I heard a prominent pastor in my denomination saying that Christian leaders should value revelation more than education. It’s appalling. How can you have revelation without education?
Can revelation be apart from Scriptures? In all honesty, any revelation which is apart from scripture is deception. And it’s wise to steer clear of such. But this deception will continue to grow if church leaders neglect the value of theological education.
Through education, a person who heard God calling them to ministry receives the knowledge to rightly conduct their service.
But sound theological education comes in different ways; Mark was an intern to Barnabas, Timothy read books and learned from Paul, Peter, James and John set themselves apart for studying the Scriptures, Stephen and Philip sat at the feet of the apostles. Be attentive to the Spirit and wait for your local body of Christ to confirm the calling. Lives are at stake here.
What happens if people go into ministry without hearing God clearly?