Monday, January 18, 2016

How do I know if I am being called to faithful gospel ministry?

“This saying is trustworthy: "If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work."” -1 Timothy 3:1

My calling to preach the gospel originated as a freshman in college at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The call came during a time of prayer and bible reading. The day it happened my mind was filled with images of Christ on the cross, the suffering, and the mission Christ left us. While in prayer, I asked the Lord to show me His Will. I asked if he wanted me to serve him in the ministry and preach the word. I didn’t hear an audible voice, there was no still small voice, and there was no burning bush there was however my Bible. I grabbed my bible desperately looking for an answer, opened it randomly and it fell to Second Corinthians chapter six verse three though thirteen, which describes the Apostle’s hardships in ministry. I became completely convinced that this was my decisive call from God to preach the word and minister faithfully to him. I went to my home church in the next few weeks, and they affirmed the call. Those verses that were used that day I have returned to many times for encouragement and reaffirmation.

1 Timothy 3:1 gives a general call to all who have desires, and a specific call similar to what is seen in Jeremiah 20:9. Pastor Vic Wallace, my mentoring pastor, use to say, “Do you have the desire to preach like a burning in the bones?” What he means is there a burning desire to preach the Word of God? It is an unquenchable need to preach the Word of God.

  • Discern Your Call Though Wisdom. Mystical readings outside the Holy Bible that discern “God’s Will” make for captivating stories, but fall short compared to the Word of God. The Bible says in Hebrews 1:1-2 that God spoke in the past though burning bushes, still small voices, even a donkey, but today he speaks through His Son. 
  • Have Your Local Church Affirm Your Call. While ordination exists more for tax breaks then as a biblical concept, an affirmation from your local church is vital to understanding if you are called to preach the gospel. Your local church should be able to see the gifting (Matt 28:14-20; John 21:15-17; Acts 6:2, 11:25-26; Eph 4:11; and 1 Tim 3:2) and qualifications (1 Timothy 3) being met in your life.
  • Understand that being a pastor is not the only way to faithfully served Christ.  If you have discerned that you want to live a life sold out to Jesus, Praise God you get the gospel! However, this does not mean that you are called to preach the gospel! In seminary I remember many who just floated into seminary, because they didn’t really know what they wanted to do and Bible College ended. Ask yourself hard questions like, what gets me really excited when I think about serving the Lord? What am I passionate about? What energizes me as I serve God? We need faithful lay leaders in local churches just as much or more so than we need faithful ministers of the gospel!

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