No one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God. (Hebrews 5:4)
A brief answer to this question follows. For a more detailed answer, order Keith Drury’s book “The Call of A Lifetime” from Wesleyan Publishing House or call and order at 1-800-493-7539. Your pastor may already have this book for you!
The idea of being “called” to a vocation of ministry may be a foreign idea to you. Most individuals choose what they want to do to earn a living. The Bible teaches us that while every Christian is called to be God’s servant and to use his or her vocation to minister to others, God calls some to specialized ministries on behalf of the Church. People do not choose to become ministers, missionaries or some other form of ordained or commissioned minister in the Church; they are called by the Lord.
God calls a lot of different kinds of people to commit themselves to vocations of specialized Christian service and He calls them in a lot of different ways. Some people are called in dramatic ways, but most people experience their “call” as a growing conviction, or compulsion, resulting from a time of commitment to the will of God in their lives. Often this takes place at youth camp, camp meeting, missionary convention, or revival meeting. But don’t worry if your call didn’t come this way – there is no one way that God calls people.
How you are called is not as important as being certain you are called. If God has called you, He can make that call very clear to you. God calls people from within the Body of Christ to minister to that Body and to assist it in incorporating others into fellowship. It seems logical then that He would use the Body of Christ to recognize and nurture those who are called to vocations of specialized ministry. God can use your local church and close Christian friends to help make your call clear and to help prepare you for ministry.
Those who are called by God should be able to pass five “tests” regarding the genuineness of their call. These five tests are:
- The test of “grace.” Have you been saved and entirely sanctified? Do you live a holy life? Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life?
- The test of “gifts.” Do you have a reasonable amount of ability to understand, reason, communicate and provide loving care and leadership to God’s people? Listen to the counsel of your pastor and trusted Christian friends as they guide you in discovering and developing your gifts for ministry.
- The test of “fruit.” Are people being helped by your Christian influence? Are you open about your faith? Have you brought anyone closer to the Lord by your witness?
- The test of “an abiding sense of a divine call.” Do you have an inner awareness of God’s leading? Is this awareness dependent upon a highly charged environment to stay alive or is it an unshakable part of your daily life? Are you ready to pay the price to give yourself wholly to the demands of preparation and service which are a part of this call?
- The test of “open doors.” Does the Lord open doors for your preparation for ministry? Are there open doors of opportunity for you to use your talents and test your gifts? The enemy will fight against you, but the Lord will also use open doors of opportunity to validate your call.