Called To Preach?

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Are you called to preach by God or are you "mama called and papa sent"? "Mama called and papa sent" is the idea that your parents were the major force that influenced you to get into the ministry...not as a result of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Ok, maybe it's not as bad as that, but you could be self called. I believe many are self called. In other words, to many, the preaching ministry is just a profession and not a Divine Calling.

And some are influenced to get into the preaching ministry because someone else that they admire or envy has been called to preach and is in the ministry. They want to be like their idol instead of being Christ like. Some even think, "I want to be the big guy behind the pulpit that gets all the attention and gets to tell everybody what he thinks."

So, why are you in the preaching ministry or why do you want to be in the preaching ministry?

Are you called to preach by God?

First of all, there are some prerequisites involved here. God is not going to call anyone who does not have the capability to hear Him call. In other words, one must be a genuine believer, because only genuine believers can hear His call to preach.

But just because you have the capacity to hear God's call, does not mean you will hear His call. Sometimes we let the cares of this world drown out the call of God. We must be in tune with Him in order to hear His call.

But just because we have the capacity to hear God's call and we actually hear God's call, it does not mean we will heed God's call. There are those, like Jonah in the Old Testament, who run from God's calling.

So, in summary, to be called by God into the preaching ministry, one must have the capacity to hear Him call (only believers); one must actually hear Him call (in tune with God); and one must answer or obey the call (surrender to fulfill the call of God and actually engage in a preaching ministry). More on being called to preach by God here.

How do you know you are called to preach?

You might be saying right now, "I know I have the capacity to hear God because I am a genuine believer; and I have ability to hear Him because I am close to Him and am walking with Him; and if He were to call me to the preaching ministry I would gladly surrender; but how do I know that I am called to peach right now?

I know because I have an inescapable conviction that the preaching ministry is what God wants me to do and what I am supposed to do. It is more than a "want to." It is a "have to." It is alright to want to preach but the Divine Call gives you a sense that you have to preach as well.

Paul the Apostle said, "Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel." In other words, I must preach the Gospel. I don't have a choice. I have been called to preach.

If you don't have that urgency it is very possible that you are not called to least not by God. In fact, as someone appropriately said, "If you are in tune with God and you can do anything else besides the preaching ministry, then do it. He's not calling or you would hear Him loud and clear."More on knowing that you are being called by God here.

What does it mean to be called to preach?

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Based upon the above passage where Paul spoke to the Ephesian Elders, there are three main things we are to do in the preaching ministry: take heed, lead, and feed.

Take Heed
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock." "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."

The first major task in the preaching ministry is to be guarded and watchful for your soul as well as the souls of those whom God has put in your care.

To guard your own heart, you must walk closely with the Lord and make sure you are sensitive to grieving the Holy Spirit. To guard and protect the hearts of your flock you must know your people well enough to know their special needs and weaknesses and what endangers them and devote yourself to their growth and welfare.

This takes talking and counseling and fellowshipping and visiting and praying together with them. More about protecting your flock later.

There are many dangers out there you and your people will face. Please diligently beware. More on taking heed later.

"Over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers."

This is Biblical proof of the Divine Calling. We don't call ourselves; Mama doesn't call us; God the Holy Spirit calls us into the preaching ministry and the next major task is to lead, to oversee.

It's the same word used to describe the leadership role of the Bishops, the Elders, the Presbyters, the Pastors, the Preachers, the Teachers. Lead by example, lead with vision, lead in humility, and lead through strength.

God needs leaders who lead their people to Him. More on leading the flock later.

"To feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

Jesus told Peter, "Feed my sheep." This is the preaching, the teaching, the feeding responsibility of the preacher. What do we feed the spiritual sheep? We feed them the Word of God, that spiritual bread for growth, that spiritual water for refreshment.

We feed them the milk of the word, then we feed them the meat of the word. We preach the whole counsel of God; we reprove, rebuke, and exhort. More on feeding the flock later.

Take heed, lead, and feed the flock that God has given us. That is our job as ministers; that is the responsibility of those of us who are called to preach. We should not take it lightly.

We are responsible for the spiritual direction of those precious sheep that God has entrusted to us. It's a big job, so when we realize that God has definitely called us to the ministry, we need to prepare properly and thoroughly.

What did preachers from the past think about God's call to the preaching ministry?

Martin Luther, one of the great Reformation preachers, believed that preachers who are appointed by man and not by God are false preachers. If they preach that salvation is by works and not by God's grace through faith in Christ, they are decieving the sheep and are not of God. See Martin Luther's sermon on preaching and God's call here.

Rev. John Dempster was a pastor, a missionary, and an educator. He was an eloquent speaker and was able to do what he felt only God called preachers could do...aptly convey the truth of God's Word. His sermon to other preachers, "A Discourse on the Ministerial Call", explains the call of God to the ministry beautifully and explicitly. See Rev. John Dempster's sermon on the Ministerial Call here.

John Henry Jowett, pastored some well known churches and wrote some popular books. As far as I am concerned, his best work was his lectures on preaching at Yale, which were later made into a book, "The Preacher: His Life and Work." Other sermons and lectures were put into a book called "Apostolic Optimism."

John Henry Jowett believed that the preacher must be called to preach by God and his job is more than just the preaching. See one of John Henry Jowett's lectures on preaching here.

Alfred P. Gibbs was a military chaplain, a rescue mission minister, a children's pastor, and an educator. He is probably most well known for his classic homiletics book, first called "A Primer for Preaching" and later, "The Preacher and His Preaching". See Alfred P. Gibbs chapter on "The Preacher's Call" here.

What do I do now that I know I am
called to preach by God?

Announce your call. If you have sought counseling from your pastor and other mature Christians about the "call" of God on your life, they will not be surprised when you announce to them and the church that you are sure of your call by God to the Gospel ministry.

Continue being a good Christian. One will never be a good preacher if he is not first a good Christian. Read and study your Bible and pray on a regular basis.

Continue to exercise your spiritual gifts. Continue serving through your local church, under the supervision of your pastors, with a view to proving worthy of the ministry and one day being licensed, ordained, and then ministering full-time for the Lord.

Pray about how you should train to do the ministry God has called you to do. Much training can be accomplished informally while working under other ministers. Some of the best lessons I learned about the ministry were learned while working under another seasoned minister in a mentoring relationship.

Other knowledge can be acquired and ministry skills developed formally while in Bible School and Seminary. Some who are called to preach go to a formal school right away and then intern, as it were, in a ministry setting after the formal schooling is done.

This allows one to get the knowledge and then get the experience while under someone before taking a ministry of one's own. Mistakes made while being mentored by a caring and loving and experienced minister are more easily tolerated (by those being ministered to) than when you are in a ministry of your own.

Let God lead you into your lifelong ministry calling. You may already be there...working under someone else. But if God's calling for you is to be in a primary leader ministry role, He will lead you there when He is ready (and when you are ready, for that matter). Part of God's will is always His timing.

Whatever you do after you are called to preach, make sure it is God leading you to do it. He will direct you in how to prepare for the ministry, just like He directed you to surrender to the ministry in the first place. Listen carefully to the Lord!

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