How does a calling for the ministry come?


How does a calling for the ministry come? Can you have a calling for the ministry when you are not saved? If I do not deceive myself I may believe the Lord has done something in my life but I can not speak of a Christ knowledge, how can I then teach people with such little knowledge of the way of conversion?


Hello Joe,

God calls His servants to the work of the ministry by drawing the heart to this work as well as giving them the direction from His Word.  Besides, there also must be an 'aptness to teach' in other words, God will equip His people with the abilities necessary to do the work of the ministry.   Not everyone who may possess saving grace, is necessarily fitted to be an office-bearer within His visible church.

So the desire for the ministry is something that the Lord lays in the heart of His people.  Without that inner conviction and longing to give yourself for this task, there would be something vital missing.  Paul wrote to Timothy that "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work."  (1 Tim. 3:1) Not only is it a good thing but also a necessary thing.

However, everyone who has experienced the grace of God may feel this desire in his heart.  Even female believers may experience a desire for this but know that this isn't God's will for them as He hasn’t reserved that task for them.  Therefore God's servants also can relate that God spoke to them about this calling through His Word. To go without such a Divine direction, we may be running without a warrant.  Therefore in one way or other God will through His Word either direct or confirm that this heart's desire is His calling.  Let this be your chief business therefore at the throne of grace.  Never place yourself into this way until you are fully convinced that it is God's will for you and your life.  I will never forget how my pastor directed me at the time that I struggled with knowing if this was God's will.  After having related to him my feelings and struggles, looking at me calmly, he said nothing.  I asked him, "What do you think?" and his answer was basically, "It doesn't matter what I think!  You have to convince me that you feel that God has called you to the ministry.  It is not my task to convince you that it is."  With that I could go home.  To be honest, I was very upset with him and didn't think he was good pastor.  Later I learned that his answer was the best and wisest.  This calling is something between you and the Lord.  Therefore, Joe, you need to be assured in your heart that God has called you and is sending you forth to seek to attain to this office.

Lastly, God speaks through His providence.  If He has destined you to be a 'pastor and teacher' He would also have given you the certain abilities to take up this task.  Not everyone has the qualifications of character to be a pastor.  I am going to refer you to Brakel's books, entitled The Christian's Reasonable Service. He has a very instructive chapter on the calling to the ministry.

Lastly, your question about a "Christ knowledge." From what I understand of your question is that you have hope that a work of grace has begun in your heart. Yet you feel yourself so poor in the understanding and assurance of the work the Lord Jesus.  That is the heart of the Gospel message.  Therefore I suggest you to 'set yourself at the feet of the Lord Jesus as Mary of old.'  Let it be your specific prayer that the Lord would reveal Himself more and more to you personally. The Lord made His apostles "witnesses" and only 'witnesses' can give a more trustworthy testimony of the message they must bring.  That doesn't mean that all God's servants need to have an experiential knowledge of every aspect of what they preach about.  But to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His great work of atonement etc. cannot be missed in the personal experience of the preacher's heart. Paul's prayers in Eph. 1:16-23 and 3:14-21 are beautiful prayers to be exercised with as it regards exactly your need.

So dear Joe, wait on the Lord in fervent prayer, listening for His answer in the Word preached and read.


Pastor Arnoud Vergunst