On previous posts, we have considered the “desire and character” of a man pursuing gospel ministry. Few would dispute the necessity of evaluating these two areas. There is, however, a third area that more often gets overlooked, but I would argue is just as essential. It is the area of consistent, faithful local church involvement.
No one wants a physician who may have finished medical school, but has no understanding or knowledge of a hospital and the hands on experience of treating sick people. Likewise, no one wants a pastor who is not involved and knowledgeable in the very setting he feels called to labor—the local church. Nor can a local church affirm someone that has not demonstrated to it the “desire and character” required for this office through his involvement with that church. Hence, for a local church to be able and equipped to give an external call to someone, that man must exhibit his internal calling among that church. Therefore, there are three reasons I would argue for the necessity of this third area:
A Christian man’s internal calling is demonstrated through his love and commitment to a local church. How sad and too common it is for a young man to spend years in seminary and be cut off from any local church involvement. Then he graduates and somehow thinks a love for the local church will magically come with the salary he accepts from his first pastorate. A love for the local church is displayed by a commitment to it, realizing it is the means through which God primarily is building his kingdom and accomplishing his purposes in the world.
A Christian man’s internal calling is also revealed to the members of a local congregation as his gifts are exercised within the body for all to observe. In considering the lists Paul gives us in scripture, there are many gifts a man called to this fine work should possess and use to serve that local church to which he has committed. Gifts to preach and teach publicly and privately, kindly care for the widows, be hospitable in his home, and share the gospel with unbelievers are all gifts scripture tells us the pastor should possess.
A Christian man’s internal calling, as those gifts are used, will bear fruit and will impact the lives of the people in that local church. God will use a man who is apt to teach to sow fruitful seeds of the word into people’s hearts. God will use a man to impact lives who is willing to shower kindness and gentleness to an elderly lady sick in the hospital. God will use a man to impact lives who gives his money to help a family in need in the church or invites a lonely single individual after church to their home for the afternoon. As this man impacts others in the local church through deliberate and intimate involvement, God in his grace is equipping that local church to affirm the internal calling of that brother with an external call.