I recently pulled an old journal off of my shelf from about 10 years ago. Some of the notes were from a Campus Crusade for Christ Christmas conference where Dan Hayes (author of Fireseeds of Spiritual Awakening) was a main speaker. But during that time, I was wrestling with whether or not I was called by God into full time ministry. Dan gave a breakout session that was specifically geared towards answering this question. I think his insights were right on the money, so I decided to pass them along to the teeming throngs of devoted “Everything is Backwards” readers. He sums it up in four steps. If you are called by God into ministry, you will at least experience all of the following.
1. You develop an increased awareness that the deepest needs of mankind can only be met by God through Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, one does not have to look very far to find ministers who package and sell the gospel as a product to improve people’s lives. This doesn’t meet needs. In fact, our lives need to be broken, not improved, to reveal our true heart condition. Our deepest needs involve breaking down our personal idols and functional saviors to expose the longings underneath. These deepest longings are only satisfied through Jesus Christ. If we recognize that there is no hope in life apart from Christ, then that passes the first test of ministry calling.
2. You sense a personal responsibility to do something to meet these deepest needs.
You don’t just feel sad or burdened, you are compelled to take action in some way. Maybe it is to be a prayer warrior, or to preach, or to share Christ all the time with people, or to dig into God’s word to understand him better. Regardless of the form it takes, there is an undeniable sense that God wants you to personally do something about it.
At this point, I should define what I mean by “ministry.” What I mean is a type of vocation (or bi-vocation, if that is the case) where you are ministering directly to God’s people as part of your job. Certainly, every person in the body of Christ is called to be a witness of Him and to serve, but not everyone is called into vocational ministry. So, I’m talking about pastors, missionaries, and so on.
3. A person looks at different aspects of Christian work and thinks, “I can do that.”
A person needs to have some degree of ministry confidence and competence. I acknowledge that “our competence comes from God,” (2 Cor 3:6), but this does not mean that this makes all believers competent for ministry. Quite the contrary, God equips certain people for that task. Not just anyone would make a good plumber, not just anyone would make a good pastor.
4. The intensity of your desire to do secular work declines and the intensity of your desire to do Christian work increases.
When or if you get to a point in your life where you reasonably can’t possibly imagine doing something other than Christian ministry, then its case closed. A sense of foreboding inevitability hangs over you at night as you lie awake and think about what God might be asking of you. You simply can’t see yourself doing anything else.