I’ll never forget preparing for my first sermon. I was 19 years old, newly married, and scared out of my mind. My initial outline, which I had labored for days to create, suddenly looked like sophomoric drivel on Saturday night. Discouraged, yet determined, I threw up a quick prayer to beg for wisdom and/or grace, then dove headfirst into a complete rewrite. I went to bed in the wee hours of Sunday morning with a new sermon outline and an unsteady hope that God would somehow intervene.
My first sermon lasted 14 minutes.
OK, so I didn’t know anything about timing or delivery, but I think I still hold the world record for most words per minute on a Sunday morning.
Later that afternoon I was exhausted and ecstatic. I finally experienced what God had been preparing me for–I was going to serve Him in vocational ministry for the rest of my life.
What about you? Have you ever felt God leading you to serve Him in ministry?
Though totally unintended, that was a trick question. If you’re a follower of Jesus, God expects you to serve Him by ministering to others. What I’m talking about is something a little different. God’s plan for some people includes ministry leadership as a career. You may have heard this referred to as a “calling to ministry,” especially if you grew up in church. A “calling” is simply a God-inspired assignment that aligns your unique gifts with His specific purpose. Here’s how the Apostle Paul described it:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV.
Please hear me: everyone saved by God’s grace is of equal worth and importance, but we all have different functions within the body of Christ. All of us are ministers, but God has set apart some people to prepare other people for ministry. Make sense?
Some ministry leaders are paid while others serve in leadership positions as a volunteer. Of the ones who are paid, some work for the church as full-time employees, while many receive the equivalent of a part-time salary (notice how I worded that last part–there’s no such thing as a part-time ministry leader!).
No matter the rate of pay, ministry leaders are held to a higher level of responsibility for the maturing of the body of Christ. Every one of them teaches, counsels, and encourages while relentlessly leading the congregation to accomplish God’s mission for the church.
How do you know if you’re the person God is setting apart for leadership in ministry? There are four indicators of a calling to ministry:
- A confirmation you don’t seek. A calling to ministry should be confirmed by the people who know you best. Don’t look for affirmation from just anyone, but listen closely to people who live out maturity in faith by listening to and fully trusting God. For example, the Apostle Paul often affirmed Timothy’s calling to ministry–that’s a pretty good endorsement!
- An irresistible and unshakable trust. Abram experienced this in Genesis 12 when he was compelled by God to leave his homeland for an unknown place. The pull on his life caused him to uproot his life and family, but he did so because he trusted God.
- A passion that isn’t manufactured. When God calls, He gives an unstoppable passion to accomplish His mission. Are you thinking about, dreaming about, and talking about the things that are important to God? If so, perhaps God is preparing you to serve Him at a different level.
- A feeling of inadequacy. It’s been said that God doesn’t call the equipped but He equips the called. The Bible is full of people who argued with God about His plans for their life. Don’t let the feeling of inadequacy push you away from ministry, but allow it to draw you into a deeper dependence upon God.
Every follower of Jesus is called to ministry. It’s a full-time gig–we do whatever it takes to serve others, share the message of salvation through Jesus, and glorify God in everything we do and say. But I’m thankful God grants the special opportunity for some to be fully immersed in leading the body of Christ to expand God’s Kingdom!
If God has called you to ministry and you’re sensing He has a new mission field in mind for you, take a few minutes to post your resume at justchurchjobs.com. Also, if you’d like someone on our team to review your resume (totally free, of course!), send it to us at [email protected]. We’re in ministry too–we’re always happy to help you discover God’s plans for your life.