Am I called to full-time ministry? It’s a tough question and my answer is probably a little stickier than you’ll be comfortable with. Let me say at the outset that this is merely my opinion on the subject and many great men who have gone before me would disagree with my view on the subject. So please, as I disagree with them, don’t take that to mean disrespect of their ministry. I want to share what God has taught me as a man who was called to ministry but now has a much different part to play in God’s plan.
You Need to Ask The Question
That’s right. Every believer at some point in their life should ask the question, “am I called to full-time ministry?” As my father-in-law is fond of saying, “if you can do anything else besides ministry…do it.” He doesn’t mean that in a negative way. Just that you need to seriously ask the question and if the answer is no, than don’t try and force it. But I think many Christians never even ask the question. They go along with the American dream of an HGTV house, 2.5 kids and a range rover. If you’ve never asked the question please, DO IT NOW. Take a weekend and pray through it with a loved one or a friend.
You Are Called to Ministry
It’s been said a million times, but it’s worth saying again; every believer is called to ministry. Even if you aren’t called to full-time ministry you ARE called to ministry in your church. In Ephesians 4:16 it says “when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Paul is very clear here. It’s only by every person doing ministry that the church can grow and build itself up in love. If we remove one person from ministry the entire body suffers. If you aren’t faithfully serving in your church, no matter your age, you are hurting your church. Whether you are “called” to full-time ministry or not, you ARE called to ministry.
If you aren’t faithfully serving in your church, no matter your age, you are hurting your church
But that doesn’t mean you have to do ministry that you would hate! God has made you perfectly for the ministry that he wants you to accomplish and you are the only person who can accomplish it. Here’s a great sermon on that topic called Intricately Woven. It’s by a Bible Institute Graduate who is now serving in full-time ministry at Grace Community Church in Orange County New York.
Debunking the “Mystical Call”
For literally centuries people have been talking about the mystical call. It’s hard to describe and that’s what makes it mystical. In fact Oswald Chambers says, “If you are able to tell exactly where you were when you received the call of God and can explain all about it, I question whether you have truly been called.” That’s been pretty much the prevailing wisdom for the last oh…two thousand years. Martin Luther described the call to full-time ministry as, “God’s voice heard by faith.” He said those whom God called felt a sense of leading, purpose, and growing commitment to christian ministry.
Charles Spurgeon said the first sign of God’s call to ministry was an, “intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.” You can probably track down even more people who think this way. The call to full-time Christian Ministry has always been described as a mystical call from God that cannot be explained. My first question is, “if the call is mystical how can you ever know if you have truly been called?”
It’s my belief that describing the call of God as a “mystical” experience has caused many people to ignore God’s true call.
Don’t Miss God’s Real Call
It’s my belief that describing the call of God as a “mystical” experience has caused many people to ignore God’s true call. If you’re looking for a mystical experience where God speaks to you audibly, gives you a sign or shows up in an obvious way you might miss it when He’s actually calling you. Remember the story of Elijah? He went up on a mountain to hear from God. There was a huge wind that tore through rocks, an earthquake, and a fire. Yet God chose to speak in a small whisper.
God likes to speak in a whisper rather than a shout.
I think this passage shows us something profound about the way God works. He likes speaking in a whisper rather than a shout.
If you’re looking for the shout it’s easy to miss the whisper.
My Call to Full-Time Ministry
When I finished Bible College I felt the call to full-time ministry. I had a strong passion for the Local Church and what God was doing through it. Before I became a pastor I spent a year working at the Bible Institute ministering to students. I then decided to get to the “real” ministry of the church. At the time I believed in the mystical call and felt that God had given me my own version of it.
I went on to be a Youth Pastor at a church in Michigan and truly loved my time there. However, God made it clear to both me and my wife that it was time to leave just 3 1/2 years into our ministry there. Without going into details, the Pastor I went there to work with died suddenly of a genetic heart defect. This led to a cascade of events that eventually led us to resign from the church.
After leaving such a tough situation I wasn’t ready to jump back into ministry. Shortly after that my wife and I joined another church. It was a great place to heal and experience loving community. Our small group loved on us, and we jumped back into ministry (though not full-time) once again. For those 4 1/2 years I was in full-time ministry I was absolutely called to ministry. I had a passion for the church and the people I was serving.
Was My Calling a Lie?
Now four years later, I work in marketing. I’m not completely removed from ministry but I’m no longer on the front lines. Does that mean I was never called? Was I just deluding myself? Was my entire ministry career worthless? NO! I was called for that period of my life. I’ve heard countless stories just like mine. Business men who become pastors, and vis versa. People who went to another country after working a job for years. Men who started a business then became a pastor, then went back to their business again.
At some point, every person has to step away from full-time ministry. We don’t often think about that fact. Most of the stories in the Bible are of people who were martyrs in ministry. They started their full-time ministry and died doing it. But for the majority of us that will not be the case. At some point we will retire, go to another job, switch careers, have a family issue that takes us away from full-time ministry or any number of reasons. If that is true, then I think the mystical call really doesn’t make sense.
God Hasn’t Finished Your Story
The real truth I’m try to get at is this; your story isn’t finished. Even though I haven’t been in ministry for several years now that doesn’t mean I will never return. If God is the One writing your story you must always have to be prepared for a surprise chapter…or ending! The real question isn’t, “am I called to full-time ministry?” It’s, “have I surrendered my life to God?”
If you wake up everyday giving your life to God you can never be sure where He will take you or what He will use you to do. That’s the real adventure and excitement of the Christian life. Being used by God in new ways every day. Today it might be serving in your church, four years from now as a pastor and 10 years from now in business. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you are open to small whisper of God!
If you wake up everyday giving your life to God you can never be sure where He will take you or what He will use you to do.