Are You Called To Ministry?
Ephesians 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be
prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of
Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in
the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the
whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 12: 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all
apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles,
also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those
with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of
tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all
work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues?
Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will
show you the most excellent way.13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men
and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a
The Lord needs workers. In every neighborhood, town, city, state, and
nation the Lord's army needs leaders and workers we shall generally call
ministers. This article is designed to make you think or to get you to
look inside your heart to see if you have been called or are now being
called to ministry work.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those only of the writer and
do not reflect any official position of any religious movement,
denomination, organization, or body.
It is not what you read here that calls you into the Lord's service.
Only God places the call upon your heart. The purpose of this message is
to open your heart and thinking to the possible ways God has spoken to
you in the past or may speak to you in the future.
First, we must take away some of the mystique around what we call
"ministry." Millions of persons who do not have the title
"reverend", "pastor", "priest",
"rabbi", or any other religious form of address in front of
their names. Nevertheless, these millions are functioning as ministers
or ministerial workers without the form of address because they are
ministering to others. Every Christian worker who humbly and contritely
works for the Lord in any capacity is answering the Lord's call to be a
servant in ministry. What we wish to explore here is the point at which
you or others might feel that the Lord is asking you to join His efforts
in a more recognized way. The call to ministry, in all of the forms of
ministry, is to be taken seriously. One must look deep within his or her
life and prayerfully ask the Lord's direction about the Lord's call.
The forms in which the Lord calls us to ministry are as varied as the
circumstances of life. Some persons actually hear a direct audible voice
they identify as God. From my own personal call of "Feed my
sheep" via His audible voice, I can tell you it can be a
life-changing encounter. God may speak to you in an audible voice but do
not be disappointed if He chooses some other method to call you into His
service. Different people are called in different ways.
You may receive or experience a touch from the Lord that we would
identify as an action of the Holy Spirit. This touch from the Lord,
along with the messages placed in your heart that come with His touch,
may communicate to you the Lord's will. The message you receive within
your heart and spirit is the substance of the call from Him. You must
not confuse the form of His call with the substance of it. Many people
have direct and sometimes dramatic encounters with our Lord. No matter
how direct or dramatic your encounter might be, the call upon your heart
to join in our recognized efforts in ministry is the substance of His
message. When you experience the Lord's touch upon your life, go to Him
in prayer. If, while you are in prayer, He tells you He wants you to
pursue a ministry for Him, you have most likely received a call to be
one of His ministers. The touching experience referred to above may be
compared to someone touching you on the shoulder to get your attention.
His touch may be dramatic or it may be so slight as to be almost
You may have already been touched by the Lord to be His recognized
servant. At times, persons ignore His touch or minimize it. His call
upon your life may not be accompanied by some dramatic event. Therefore,
do not expect to be called in some dramatic fashion for the Lord may be
calling you in quiet ways.
How do you know "for sure" that you are called to the
ministry? The hard answer to this question is that you will know
"for sure" only in your heart and spirit. You walk this path
of spiritual battle by faith, not by sight. Generally, we receive a call
to be a minister in faith. Some may hear an audible voice or see a
vision. A dramatic tangible call helps those persons who need to
actually see or hear the Lord. However, others, for reasons only He
knows, are called to His work in less tangible ways.
The dramatic moving of His spirit within you may be a signal that He
wants you in His service. A moving of the Spirit can be like your whole
life force being moved up, down, left, or right while you know it is the
Lord's hand doing this moving. The Lord may produce this moving
experience in you a number of times so you know it is the Lord. Other
persons may receive only one such encounter. What is most important is
not the method the Lord uses to get your attention. What is most
important is the message He has for you.
You may not have any kind of dramatic experience at all if the Lord
calls. What you may have is a constant and unrelenting recording in your
heart that says to the Lord, "Yes, I do." Sometimes we have
the answer burning in our heart to join in the Lord's service and we
never hear the Lord's question. Sometimes we have our answer to the
Lord's calling and the answer is on our heart for years but we ignore
the answer because we have not heard the Lord's question. Sometimes we
are expecting the Lord to call us in a special way when this special way
is not the Lord's way of calling us. When you are in prayer, look within
your heart to see if your heart is already holding an answer to the
Lord's call on your life. If you feel His tugging and pulling on your
heart then this pulling and tugging may be His call to you.
If the Lord called you to the ministry as a child, you may have
pushed this call aside due to the stresses, strains, and difficulties of
growing up into adulthood. However, once the Lord calls you, it is
unlikely that He will change His mind. Even if you push His call aside
it is unlikely He will change His mind about your value to Him in His
Your call to ministry may not take the form of your being physically
floated up to a cloud or carried to the top of a mountain. You will
probably not receive a fax, email, telephone call, or letter directly
from the Master. This is not to say these kinds of experiences are not
possible. They are just not probable. What is most common is that you
will experience a "knowing" deep within your heart about the
Lord's will and call upon your life.
The direction of your service for Him may not take the form of
preaching. Not everyone called to the Lord's service is called to a
preaching ministry. As we see in the gospel account, there are many
roles or jobs to do in His service. In the Lord's way and in His time,
an opportunity to serve Him may arrive in your life. The opportunity to
serve Him is unlike any other endeavor in life. The opportunity brings
with it the power of God moving through you in humility but can also
bring the pain of disappointment.
If you have a spirit of unselfishly giving care and comfort to others
in the name of the Lord, then you could be called by Him. Giving care
and comfort to others is a vital ingredient in witnessing His love. If
you are moved by the Lord to be a caregiver to others in His name then
you may also be moved within your heart to answer His divine touch to
enter the ministry.
If you have served in a ministering role in the past or you have
"fallen into" this role then this could be a signal to you
that the Lord wants you to join others in His service. If serving the
Lord is something that you have done for a number of years and you have
served without having to spiritually exert pressure on yourself to do
so, then this could be a signal from our Lord. If serving the Lord
brings you uncountable joy in spite of some of the uncountable burdens
and frustrations of service, this could also be a signal from the Lord
to serve Him in the ministry.
If you have been called by the Lord to serve in a leadership role in
your church then this leadership activity may also be a call upon your
heart to serve the Lord in a more recognized way. The Lord may have
given you the talents and traits to lead others so you can use these
talents and traits to serve Him. Regardless of the talents and traits
the Lord has given you, any talent or trait can be used for the Lord.
What must be reiterated here is that when you go to the Lord in prayer
about His calling for your life, His direction and His call are the only
real criteria for whether you should enter the ministry.
You must not set up some kind of criteria under which the Lord must
work in your life. None of us can know in advance what the Lord will say
to us or how He will say it. None of us can know in advance whether the
Lord will call us to the ministry or how He will call us. The Lord has
His own good reasons to call us in the manner He chooses. Therefore, we
must not set up some kind of framework or criteria that we believe the
Lord must follow. We do not determine what the Lord must do, only He
determines what He does and how He does it.
The Lord tries to lead us and communicate to us on a constant basis.
Our attitude toward Him can be agreeable or disagreeable, accepting or
rejecting, welcome or unwelcome. The Lord may be constantly putting a
special call upon your life but if you do not have the proper attitude
to accept His call then you will not receive His touch, voice, or
The Lord, for reasons known best to Him, must remain invisible and
hidden from our physical senses. Due to His hidden or invisible nature,
He may put His call upon your life by dropping hints. He may have been
dropping little hints in your life for years but you may not have gotten
them or picked up on them. We can all be very dense at times. If you
look back in your life and then pray about His will for you, the little
hints He has placed in your life may add up to your special call to be
one of His servants in ministry.
Sometimes the Lord pushes us in a direction but we push back. Perhaps
the Lord has exerted great influence upon you but you have been trying
to run away from His influence or push back against Him. What each of us
must do in every aspect of our relationship to God is remain open to His
will for our lives. We must never discount His will for us. We must
never say to Him, "Oh, you don't want me in the ministry."
The Lord, if He wants you to work for Him, may only give you a gentle
nudge. He may give you only an inkling of a feeling or an idea about
serving Him in some special way. If you keep your heart and mind open to
His leading touch then you may be called by Him to do His work.
Who is it you work for in your life? All of us work in some capacity,
regardless of our age or condition. Some of us consider ourselves the
Lord's full time servants. If, in your heart, you consider yourself the
Lord's full-time servant then He may be calling you to join in His
service in ministry in a more recognized way.
The scenarios given here may not describe your life or your
relationship with the Lord, nor may any of these fit the way the Lord
calls you into His service. In fact, none of the scenarios given here
may match any person's experience when they are called to ministry. The
purpose of this message is to open up you heart and spirit to the
possibility of His working in you and calling you to work for Him.
If you receive the call of the Lord in a spirit of humility and
contriteness of heart, you can know for sure He wants you and He is
calling you. If you serve Him in a spirit of humility and contriteness
then your service will glorify and magnify His love. If you receive His
call with a heart overflowing with thanksgiving without dreams or
desires that glorify yourself then you can know for sure He is truly
The ministry, regardless of the area of service, is an extremely
difficult calling. The stress level for ministers is enormous, rated
second only to doctors. To function as a true recognized servant of God
requires that you go against your humanness in many ways. However, if
you maintain your spirit in humility before God, follow His voice when
He says to you, "Follow me," then your treasures in heaven
will be piled high as mountains.
This article was written by Rev. Patrick Kelly,
Shepherd's Care Ministries, Vail, AZ, and is available on-line at