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Question 134

Q: What wisdom can you suggest for a 20-year-old man who wonders if he’s been “called” to full-time ministry?

I’m looking for things related both to determining if one is called, as well as to preparation for ministry.

Asked by: Mike

A: Well Mike, I think it’s wonderful that you, as a 20-year-old, are beginning to think about these things.

And let me simply say that the call of God that you refer to has several elements.

First of all, it has an inward compulsion. There is something within you, if you are called to the ministry, that tells you that your destiny lies beyond other vocations, at least I felt that. But along with that, and this is very critical, it has to be confirmed by the body of Christ.

You know, there’s that old line that says that there are some people called to preach, but apparently nobody is called to listen. They simply don’t have the gifts for ministry; God didn’t cut them out for ministry, but they want to do ministry and they think that they are called. Or, perhaps, they want to do ministry because they see it as an opportunity for self-growth and self-aggrandizement. Sometimes ministers get an awful lot of attention, and so because of that, they may not be called at all, but they’re doing ministry for the attention.

So, first of all, you have to have that inward sense that God might be leading you in this direction. Secondly, it has to be confirmed by the body of Jesus Christ, and third, it has to be confirmed by His Word. Because when you get to qualifications for ministry, character is absolutely essential. And so the spiritual leaders around you will help you determine that.

But you know Mike, one of the things that I’ve discovered is that God calls people differently. Sometimes He calls them in their youth; I felt that way when I was growing up. But there are others who perhaps are 30 or 40 years old and suddenly they have this compulsion, this desire that they are called to preach, that they are called to minister. And God is very creative. He speaks to us in different ways, and in different circumstances, but the bottom line is always that there is a growing conviction and this is what we should follow.

Finally, you also ask about how you can prepare for ministry. Well there are others who can give you much better counsel than I can, but make sure you get a good education, attend a good seminary, if God is leading you in that direction. I trust that in 10 or 15 years from now, the blessing of God, the benediction and anointing of God, will be upon you.

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