It’s a question many of us ask at one point in our lives: What is my calling? Where does God want to use me right now; in ministry, in a certain career? For me the question was most urgent after I graduated from college (which I wrote about earlier on Dream in Soul). It was the typical post graduation anxiety – “uh oh – I’ve got be an adult and face the ‘real world’? What do I do now?”
I was confused as to where God was leading me, if I should pursue studying in a certain area of ministry (in my case I felt it might be youth ministry) and I searched my heart and prayed to God to show me which direction He wanted me to go. After a campus ministry conference a few months after graduation I asked one of the leaders Pastor Sample, a youth pastor at a local church, what his advice was to someone who felt they might be called into youth ministry. His answer and how he broke it all down was a blessing to me, especially how he explained how you have to hear clearly from God where He is specifically leading you. I thought his advice was fitting for anyone who was questioning the path of their calling so I wanted to share:
Question: How Do I Know if I Am Called To A Certain Ministry?
A: Special training for ministry is great and so is Bible college or a ministry school…but the main thing is that you really hear from the LORD.
He will call you (it sounds like He is) He will give you specific instructions. Do not run out ahead of Him and do not be behind Him. Go at the pace He wants you to go.
You do not need a special degree or anything…you need a confirmed word of the LORD. He never calls the qualified, He only qualifies the called.
When the Lord calls there are usually 5 steps:
1. Calling – divinely dissatisfied with what you are doing – you know you are being called to a specific direction.
2. Training – this is usually done by man…ie..bible school, training school…
3. Preparation – this is usually done by God…he teaches you things no classroom or book can (faith, patience, humility, compassion, love). He reveals any strongholds – man-pleaser, selfishness pride…this step is the hardest, but worth it.
4. Separation – He separates you unto Himself…this is usually a time of increased prayer and fasting- stillness and quiet before the Lord.
5. Release – He releases you into what He specifically made you for.
These 5 steps are on Gods timetable and really you do not decide when you go to the next step. He makes sure you fully get what you need in each step before you can go to the next one. Oak trees take years to grow.
Being called [to ministry] is not for everyone. God loves you even if you are not called. You know you are called if you cannot do anything else. For example, if you try to work a regular job (not a bad job, a good job), even if you make great money and are doing something significant and yet your heart is for ministry…that is an indication of a call.
My suggestion is you try to do something other than ministry first… so you know without a doubt you are called. I see many young people, passionate for the Lord, that think… “If I really sold out I would be in full-time ministry.” This is not true…you can be really sold out and do other things for the Lord.
Pray…seek counsel of your leaders…people who can speak in your life. The Lord will make it clear.
Though discovering my calling is an ongoing learning experience I’m thankful for the mentors and leaders at church and in the community like Pastor Sample who can share their wisdom. As you’re on your own journey be sure to seek out mentors who can guide you, and of course who better to tell us where we are called then the One who created that call?