This question lingers heavily in the minds and hearts of many believers who desire to serve God. The desire to have this question answered will likely stem from Luke 10:2 (And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.”). The Greek word translated to ministry in the Bible is the same word that means ‘waiting on tables’ as in Acts 6:2. In its general sense, it means serving as in Ephesians 4:12. So, in essence, asking if you are called into ministry is the same as asking if you are called into service, into waiting on tables. Therefore, being in ministry is like being a waiter at a restaurant. Waiters seek to serve the best meals in the best possible way. Their hearts and desires while working are to please the customers who will sit at their assigned tables.
Unlike other professions where you can study for them and acquire skills, being a Christian minister does not simply occur because you are skilled. Most fundamentally, in Christian ministry, God is the one who chooses those whom he calls to work in his vineyard. So the question Am I called to ministry? can be rephrased as Has God called me to serve him and his people? Now, this might sound daunting since a critical look would lead you to the logical conclusion that God calls anyone who is a Christian to serve God. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that God has saved us so that we can join him in his good work which he had prepared for us beforehand in Christ.
Indeed, all Christians are called to serve God in all they do as they seek to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are all called to serve God in good works (being Christ-like in character) while at the same time sharing the glory and beauty of God through the Gospel (1Thessalonians 5:11). However, it is crucial to note that God has called different people to serve him differently. Some may be called into ministries as those of the Old Testament Priests and Prophets. The Jews knew that God had chosen some to speak his oracles to them in the same way they knew that whenever sacrifices and petitions needed to be made to God, they had to go to the temple and ask priests to make the sacrifices on their behalf. Today God has appointed and given different gifts to Christians. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul highlighted the gifts availed at the time; they included apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for equipping and building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). Here are some things to consider if you are wondering if you are called to ministry.
Are You a Christian?
You cannot serve as a soldier in Kenya if you are not a citizen. In the same way, God cannot call someone who doesn’t belong to him to serve him. For All who believe in God, he gave them two things, the right to be called children of God since they are born of God (John 1:12-13). Children of God become citizens of the Kingdom of God; as such, they also become ambassadors of Christ Jesus here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:11-20). To be called to serve God in whatever capacity, you must first be a child of God. If you are not a child of God and claim to serve him, God will use all that for his glory (Philippians 1:15), but in the end, you will be disqualified from receiving the prize (Matthew 7:21-23) since there are rules for the race and the ministry (1Corinthians 9:24-27). If you are not a Christian, please press the Receive Christ button to be guided on becoming a Christian.
Are You Becoming More Like Christ?
In scripture, we see people God called when they were still young; for instance, Samuel and David. However, these young men did not serve God until they were of age: grown and mature enough to take up the responsibility God had in store for them. The growth we should see today is the ability to walk in the spirit, not gratifying the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). Any person who desires to be a minister should exhibit growth in loving God and people, being a peacemaker, having joy through everything and in all situations, and growth in kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (1 Peter 1:1-8). You also should refrain from serving, especially if you are a recent convert (1 Timothy 3:6). Are you called into ministry? Before you answer that question, you should first answer, are you growing in faith?
Involvement in Ministry
Many people might mistakenly think that God calls people into a vacuum. This is not true. From Moses’ time until today, all faithful ministers of the Word of God got somehow involved in serving God and his people before taking up their main roles as ministers. This preliminary kind of service is what became their stepping stone into ministry. Every believer of God has the Holy Spirit, and as such, they have been equipped by the Holy Spirit to serve the church. Primarily God has gifted each of his children by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). Your first service should be to the household of God (Galatians 6:10). One may ask, how do I know my gift? I would answer, By serving in the local church. Serve in the Sunday school, be an usher or even serve with the music ministry. Whatever your hands find to do, do it wholeheartedly (Ecclesiastes 9:10). There is always an opportunity to serve in your church. The advantage of serving is that you will grow in how to deal with people for the glory of God. Serving becomes your training ground and your launch pad to more prominent ministry. David was a shepherd, and he learned to care for his father’s sheep, making him the best human king Israel had ever had. Could you find it and serve wholeheartedly?
Now everyone who has been called to ministry has in them the inward compulsion to do nothing else but be in ministry. Before Paul became a minister of God, he was a busy lawyer, and his life was dedicated to living by the Jewish laws. He was on the path to becoming one of the best Pharisees, but God called him, and in his words, he counted all things as dung for the Lord’s service (Philippians 3:4-10). All the disciples of Jesus responded to him calling them by leaving everything they had behind. Historically we have people like Charles T. Studd, who left his flashy life as a sportsman and became a missionary. The inward call should be compelling, pushing you to do nothing but ministry. Ministry is service for God and to God. Therefore, one needs to be sure that it’s not a fleeting feeling but a genuine desire that has overtaken your mind, heart and body.
The inward call always has to get backed by an outward confirmation. This is when people, especially those within your local church, can see your call and attest that you are gifted in certain areas. For example, Eli confirmed Samuel’s call by instructing him on how to respond to the voice he heard. Eli never heard the voice Samuel was hearing though it sounded so loud to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:9). The outward confirmation should affirm the inward call. Many people in ministry will tell you that there are people who encouraged them to join ministry because they saw their gifting as they served in their local church. Be careful also not to get tempted to join the ministry because someone is telling you that they think you can do well if you join the ministry. Remember, only God calls and commissions the people he wants to serve him (2 Corinthians 2:17), and if God has called you, he will confirm it through his people.
Seek Counsel and Be a Disciple
Talk to mature believers, preferably your pastor. Seek their Counsel, and find out what being in ministry entails. Ask them to earnestly pray with you and guide you according to God’s word as you consider serving. Joshua, for example, walked under the guidance of Moses and Aaron to be the great leader he was. When Moses prayed for a leader after him, God directed him to appoint and commission Joshua in front of the congregation (Numbers 27:15-23 Deuteronomy 34:9).
Unlike Gehazi, as Elisha’s apprentice, Elisha learned and gleaned from Elijah’s counsel before becoming the prophet (2 Kings 1-18). Likewise, all the disciples of Jesus followed and learned from him for three years before they became ministers on their own. Seeking counsel from mature believers, especially those in your local church, will help you affirm your calling as they train you and help you grasp what it means to be in ministry.
Whoever desires to be in ministry desires a good thing (1 Timothy 3:1). There are great rewards in serving God, both here and in the eternity to come (Matthew 6:19-20). However, some people join the ministry for financial gains, others because of fame. If you are miserable doing something else, you will still be miserable if you join ministry without being clear that it is the Lord who has called you to do it. Therefore, pray unceasingly and trust that the Lord will lead you on where and how he would have you serve him.