By Micah Colbert. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.
“That hundreds have missed their way and stumbled against a pulpit is sorrowfully evident from the fruitless ministries and decaying churches around us. It is a fearful calamity to a man to miss his calling, and to the church whom he imposes himself, his mistake involves an affliction of the most grievous kind” – Charles Spurgeon
How does a man know if he is called to ministry? What exactly is a ministry call? What are the evidences or signs that someone has been called to preach?
In the second chapter of Lectures to My Students, Spurgeon provides invaluable counsel to help God’s people discern the nature and evidence of a ministry call. Spurgeon argues that if a man is truly called to the ministry:
1. He must meet the Biblical qualifications of I Timothy 3:2-7
2. He must have an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work – I Tim.3:2
- Spurgeon advised young men to “not enter the ministry, if you can help it.”
- If a man can be content doing something other than ministry, he is probably not called to be a pastor.
- This desire should not be a sudden emotional response to a sermon or the presentation of a great need. Rather, a man should carefully count the cost before responding to a potential call.
- The prospective preacher should feel a “fire in his bones” (Jer.20:9), a holy compulsion to spend and be spent for the glory of God and good of His church.
3. He must have some ability to teach and some measure of other qualities needful for the office of a public minister / instructor
- If a man is called to preach, he will have an ability to do so. His gifts, however, should be cultivated, developed, and increased over time.
- Many men of God throughout church history failed miserably in their first attempts at preaching, but became mighty proclaimers of the gospel as time went on.
4. He should see a measure of fruit under his efforts
- The conversion of souls provides a “seal” to a man’s ministry.
- The world would never label a man as a fisherman who catches no fish, a soldier if he never fights, a firefighter who does not quench fires… how can a man who is commissioned by God for the gospel ministry bring no men to God?
- Spurgeon acknowledges that there will be times of bareness. Dry seasons, however, will not produce complacency or apathy. Rather, they will stoke an even greater passion in the preacher’s heart to see souls saved and lives changed by the gospel.
5. Other godly men and women in the church should recognize the call of God on his life
- A subjective feeling or experience is not enough. A man’s internal sense of calling must be confirmed by the external affirmation of God’s people.
- A wise man will not be slow to set aside the counsel or concerns of the church, especially the counsel of other men of God.
- God will provide opportunities for those whom He has called to preach.
Would you agree or disagree with Spurgeon’s assessment of a ministry call? Is there anything that you would add or take away?
Micah is the discipleship and outreach pastor at Community of Grace Church in Buffalo, NY. He is also the author of two outreach books: Good News for All Nations and Discovering Hope. Micah enjoys reading, coffee, hearty conversations, and time spent with his wife and four children.