How do I know if I am called into pastoral ministry?

I met with a friend of mine this week who is trying to evaluate whether he is called into pastoral ministry.  What I shared with him is what I would share with any brother seeking to evaluate this question.  The first question he must answer is, “Do you have a strong desire for the work of a pastor?”   The Apostle Paul instructs his young protégé in the faith and writes, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer (pastor); it is a fine work he desires to do (1 Tim. 3:1).  The great nineteenth century Baptist, Charles Spurgeon lectured young men preparing for the ministry in this way, “The first sign of the heavenly calling is an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.”  There must be a strong, unquenchable desire to do the work of a pastor—a desire to preach God’s word, shepherd God’s people, evangelize the lost, disciple the spiritually immature, and serve the local church. 

Paul writes that the man who desires to do this divine work is pursuing a fine work.  Nevertheless, an unquenchable longing for this work is required, for it is a work fraught with struggles, challenges, discouragements, pressures, and spiritual battles that can cripple the strongest of men whose desire for this divine labor is ordinary.  It must be a desire that cannot be stolen when your brother betrays you; a desire that cannot be weakened when your job is threatened; a desire that cannot be quenched when physical, mental, and emotional fatigue firmly take root.  This desire must so define the individual that the reality of an internal calling is unmistakable.

Posted in Training for Ministry
7 comments on “How do I know if I am called into pastoral ministry?
  1. Carl Erlandson says:

    As I read your post, and having studied the life of Charles Spergeon, I can only say that I, not a Pastor, must commit myself to more consistent, fervent prayer for Pastors. My son who followed in my footsteps to military flight school had many fearful doubts as to the reason he was there and in his ability to complete the program. I had many opportunities to help him sort through those doubts. Flight School is only for about a year and a half; the resolve you must have to be a pastor for a lifetime is hard for me to comprehend. You must continually refocus that resolve in any way you can as you traverse the wildernesses of the position of Pastor. We must be greater encouragers of our pastors and remember their struggles and continually bath them in prayer. The father of lies works hard to cause difficulties in our churches and for our pastors, and we must put on the armor of God daily – and that starts with prayer! Thank you for your resolve to both Pastor and to take the time to ask pointed questions in this kind of forum to cause us to reflect and to learn. I am a Pastoral Care Minister and I feel very led in this direction. I believe that God has with great patience, groomed me for this privilege to serve Him. Thanks again.

  2. Bob Kirk says:

    Thanks Brian, very helpful and encouraging.

  3. Ann says:

    Wonderful little article and so true – not just of pastoral ministry, but of a call to missions or any other form of dedicated full-time, lifelong ministry.

  4. richard chamberlain says:

    Thanks for the interesting piece – leaves me with one question, what is the work of a pastor? I imagine for Spurgeon it was something different to that practised by many in ‘pastoral ministry’ today. I refelected upon how many people I know who are serving in pastoral ministry yet are pulled from pillar to post by expectations of people without really knowing what they are called to do or be (apart from having the title of pastor).

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