I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be “called” by God. In a general sense, God calls all Christians to serve Him. No Christian is saved so they can just sit in the pew and soak up the music and the sermon. Instead of being called to sit and soak, Christians are called to serve. I think most Christians understand this, even if they are not living it out.
But I also believe that some Christians are called to deeper service. Some Christians have an inescapable sense from the Lord that they should serve as a pastor, a missionary or in some other vocational ministry role. For some Christians, such as myself, that calling comes at a specific moment of time. I still vividly recall the moment in which God called me to ministry. I was sitting on a porch in front of the “Lobster Trap” cabin at Treasure Island Camp in Lynchburg, VA. The Spirit spoke to me and told me that I was to devote my life to Christian ministry. That has been the focus of my life since that moment. For others, the calling of God to special service comes over a period of time and is less easy to identify, but the pull to ministry in those situations is no less compelling. Though many Christians many not understand this call to deeper service, those who have experienced such a call understand exactly what I am talking about.
The calling of God to ministry is very real, both in a general sense for all Christians and in deeper sense to those Christians called to some kind of special vocational ministry. That part is easy to understand. The more challenging part of answering the call of God is to know the WHERE and the WHEN of one’s calling. Should a lay person who wants to serve teach Sunday School, or be a deacon, or join the choir? He or she may not be able to do all three. How do they know which one? And how do they know when it is time to end one’s involvement in one kind of lay ministry so more time can be devoted to a different type of lay ministry. For those called to vocational ministry, how do they know if they should become the pastor of church A or church B? How does the missionary know if they are to go to Africa, Asia or post-Christian Europe? These life altering questions can be hard to answer.
In my efforts to recruit church planters and pastors to Vermont, I attempt to help men determine the answers to those very questions. It is not always easy. Though I am still sorting out my own thoughts on this subject, it seems to me that God typically uses a verse of scripture, often coupled with some unique experience, to speak to people in very specific ways. For example, a young man I am currently working with realized God wanted him to be involved in church planting through his study of scripture. But a chance encounter with a childhood friend in a restaurant led to a conversation that convinced him that Vermont was the place he was to plant that church.
I hear similar testimonies from many who are seeking a place of special service for the Lord. I would like to hear from some of my readers about how God showed them the specifics of a calling they have in their lives. If you have such a testimony, please consider leaving it in a comment below. Let each us seek God’s will and plan for our lives, whether that be through the general service that all Christians owe the Lord, or through some deeply level of service that God calls us to.