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There is much debate today about the “call” to ministry.  Often young people quickly get confused with the mystical, supernatural jargon surrounding this subject.  As I read the Bible, it seems many had non-traditional callings to the ministry.  For example, some were recruited by other leaders (Jesus and his disciples; Paul and Timothy Acts 16:1-3), and some volunteered (Isaiah 6).

Here are four principles that might help you understand “the call”:

1. It starts with an inner desire.

As I grew in my own spiritual walk as a teenager, my heart and mind were increasingly dominated by a consuming desire to be in the ministry.  Nearly every message I heard and every passage I read highlighted some facet of the urgency to preach the gospel.

In 1 Timothy 3:1 we see the pastor must have this inner desire.  If your heart burns to spread the name of Jesus around the world, maybe God is “calling” you!

2. It’s followed by a commitment to learn and grow.

Desires and emotions alone will never be enough.  You MUST be prepared for the ministry!

Timothy was mentored by Paul (2 Timothy 3:10).  He also dedicated time and energy to study (2 Timothy 2:15).

Your desire must be coupled with dedication and discipline!  Do you have a mentor relationship with some spiritual leader, pastor, or missionary?  Are you reading and studying regularly?

3. It’s clarified by an honest evaluation of your gifts and abilities.

Paul taught Timothy that every pastor must be “apt to teach”.  Not everyone has this ability.

What are you good at doing in the ministry?  What do you really enjoy?  An honest evaluation of your gifts and abilities can help you know more about God’s plan for your life.  Talk to a trusted, mature Christian or to your pastor about your gifts.

4. It’s verified by the approval of the church.

Timothy was approved by his church before he left as a missionary in Acts 16:1-3.  Similarly, Paul was approved and then sent out in Acts 13:1-3 (note: the putting on of hands is a way of showing approval).  If your pastor and church are not behind your ministry goals, there is a problem!

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Do you have a consuming desire to serve God and others?  Are you committed to learn and grow?  Do you have the abilities and gifts needed for the work?  Do your pastor and church approve?

What else could help us clarify the “call”?  I would love to read your thoughts and comments.  Take a minute and leave a comment below.  Thanks!

A presentation given in Santiago, Chile by Jason Kenney on “the call to ministry” encouraged me to write this post.  Thanks Jason for your insight!