One of my favorite stories of "what do you want to be when you grow up?" came from a friend of mine who was a recruiter for a seminary. He'd gotten a call from a long-haul trucker named 'Larry' who shared that God had told him he was to be the next Billy Graham. Obviously intrigued, my friend pried further, learning that Larry's live-in girlfriend and numerous illegitimate children were also on board. However, since Larry wasn't a Christian it was hard to get the necessary letter from a church for him to enter seminary. Needless to say, my friend was able to encourage Larry to consider laying off cheap Mexican food before making career decisions.
But that conversation brought up a more provocative question: how do I know I'm called to ministry? Many young men and women have aspirations of making a difference for Jesus, only to walk away from something they were never sure they wanted. I love this letter, which was written by Bill Piper to his son John in 1979. This sums up what CH Spurgeon had said over 100 years earlier, that entering ministry required an "irresistible, overwhelming craving and raging thirst for telling others what God has done to our own souls."
That's where the book The Call to Ministry, available from SBTS Press, comes in. With ample space for reflection, prayer, and journaling, this book walks through the nuances of discerning a calling. It starts with an internal & external call, as a Christian recognizes the work of God in their life and the confirmation of that work. From there it moves to biblical qualifications, spiritual gifts, and the importance of the calling being affirmed by others.
If you're a pastor with someone in your congregation who has a unique spiritual walk and a desire to follow Christ in vocational ministry, this resource provides an incredibly simple and dialogical process for walking through some important issues. It's refreshing to thumb through as an example of gratitude for God's work in my life, and I hope it is for yours as well.
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Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.