How Do You Know When You’re Called?

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Acts 9:3-6, “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (NIV)

“Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit”, Acts 9:17 (NIV).

How do you know when God is specifically calling you to be a pastor or plant a church? How do you know where God wants you to go, when, and how? These are all questions that every pastor has or will face. These are questions that I have faced and they are questions I am facing again. Don’t you just wish we could have a Saul conversion with a follow-up vision, miracle and prophet who would just spell them out clearly for us? Unfortunately, for many, we make it much more difficult than what God may want it to be.

When I was a young man and wrestling with the decision as to whether God was calling me to the ministry or not, I had an older pastor tell me, “If you can be happy doing anything else, then you should do it. Don’t go into the ministry.” This answer disturbed me. Why would an older pastor, who had been in full-time ministry for so long, tell me to run from it? I realized later that he simply meant if you can be happy doing anything else, God is not calling you to full-time ministry. This is a good answer and wise advice to a certain degree. I found I could be happy doing other things…for a period of time.

As I have been struggling to find God’s will as to whether I should plant a church, I have found that there are some obvious signs that God sends our way. I say struggling, because I have been happy with my job, my church and my life…kinda. So saying, okay God, I surrender! was a tough decision. But I will tell you, the peace which followed was the final confirmation.

Here are some signs and obvious clues, as I have experienced them, that God is calling you to vocational ministry:

1. The Phone rings! The bells are loud and constant. Although not always clear, something will happen or occur that will get your attention. Noah saw the clouds; Abraham saw the casket; Moses had a burning bush; Jonah met a whale; David faced a giant; Joseph had a dream; Peter got an invitation; Paul went blind. I wish our phones would ring as obvious, but for many of these they didn’t recognize even the most obvious bells. However, in our call the ring will get your attention. Something will happen that will cause you to wonder, “Is God calling me?” It may be a spirit-moving revival. It could be the empty eyes of a homeless person. It may be a sudden dissatisfaction with your place in the church or your insatiable appetite to always want more. It may be an Ananias that God sends in your life to start the thoughts that God wants more from you. Whatever it is…You can be sure the phone will ring!

2. There will be static in he line. I believe that God will create a holy discontent for the church, a community or a need somewhere in your life that will Give God the Glory. I said earlier that I was happy…for a time. In every area of my life there has inevitably come a time that I was discontent. I don’t mean every-time you are unhappy with your job, God is calling you to the ministry. I do mean that out of nowhere, for no apparent reason, you become discontent with your job, your place, your purpose. You know there has to be more. What was once clear, now becomes somewhat unclear. I believe when God calls His people to ministry, at first, He will disrupt what was once clear.

3. Third-Party Lines. When I was a kid we had what was called a party-line on our phones. That meant several neighbors, 4-6, would share the same phone lines. You pick-up your phone to make a call, and somebody else would be on it. When God calls you to ministry, you can be sure He is stirring the hearts of others on your behalf and there will be several on the same call. He will cause others to say things to you to confirm the call, he may stir the hearts of others to join you in the call, and he may even give others the same message on the call that He is giving you.

4. There will be no doubt the call is for you. I spent a lot of time the past few years helping others in the ministry. I knew God wanted more from me, so I would just try to serve in other areas of ministry. Handing the phone to this person or that person, saying it’s for you. But when God kept moving in my heart that the call was for me and I said the words, “I surrender”, I knew the call was or me. I had a sudden realization that God created me for this moment. You can be sure God will ask for you by name.

You know you are called when you have such a passion that it is hard to focus or think about anything else except the particular ministry you desire. Also, if you are wrong about your call…you are still doing something honorable for God and THAT is never a bad thing. If you find out later that your were wrong about the call, what have you lost? A few years working for God? Not a bad decision, huh. Remember, God doesn’t want us to be in the dark so just listen-up, you’ll be fine.

Be Happy!

Bryan
IMForiven.com

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4 thoughts on “How Do You Know When You’re Called?

  1. Andy

    Yes, exactly what you said has happened to me. Out of no where it seems that the Lord is saying it’s time. I was content to stay in my church where my wife and I serve but I also knew that there would come a day when the Lord would call me out.

    The part that confuses me is that I have had many times when I’ve said to myself that I didn’t feel like this would be a church where I would want to do ministry on a full time basis because the leadership was going in a direction which I felt was more lead of man than God in some areas of ministry, but I continued to serve and tithe obediently anyway. But now as I was right in the middle of taking classes for ordination, I felt the Lord telling me it was time to pull out of the other ministries I was involved in, such as marriage counseling and mens ministry so that I would have time to focus just on one ministry, which was the ordination classes. This was also a pastoral internship committment that was offered to me with the internship given to me almost free of charge. But as I decided it was time to pull out of these other ministries because I was being consumed with to much ministry outside and none at home, I began seeking the Lord dilgently for direction on my involvement in ministry, period. And I now feel that He is telling me to pull out of the church for a time to consecrate myself unto Him.

    I almost feel as you mentioned overnight, like all of the sudden I just became dissatisfied which my church, like I need more, in a different direction?

    As I said I had felt it would happen eventually but I had no idea that the Lord would tell me to pull out of the classes I was taking? I felt that being ordained would help me to get where He is calling me to be, however it seems that He is telling me to follow Him, not man. And I totally agree because I know when I was called into ministry only 5 years ago, without a doubt, God powerfully moved upon me and it had nothing to do with man. It was me totally seeking Him one on one for many days on end when He visited Me. In that time the Creator of the universe spokes some things to me that I believe will come to pass and that was my reason for preparing for ministry. But now I feel led of His spirit to obediently seek Him dilently once again for direction.

    So I had a talk with the dean of the bible college, who is also one of my mentors and he was suprised, but he said I must obey the Lord. But now heres where it got a bit questionable for him, he said red flags went up because I told him I felt the Lord was telling me to pull out my tithes as well and use it for whatever ministry the Lord is calling me to do, but he disagreed and felt I needed to make sure I was truly hearing from God?

    As I’ve said i’ve tithed faithfully since rededicated my life to the Lord 5 years ago, but now I’ve felt in my Spirit that the Lord told me that I was to put the tithe aside ( 2 weeks as of now) and i’ve expressed that the tithe is now going into an account where it will be saved till the Lord tells me what to do with it. In other words i’m not going to spend it on anything other that what the Lord tells me to spend it on.

    needless to say this lead to a conversation where he gave me his views and experiences and I expressed my views as well. I expressed my disagreement of the churches approaches to getting people to tithe and their approach in general to the ministry of Gods word to His lost and hurting sheep, I expressed my concern that many where walking away from the church because of their constant harping about the tithe. Granted I believe we should tithe, I just feel that many who come in that are newcomers, or those who are just struggling need to hear about giving unto the work of the Lord in softer ways, if not I believe it can become legalistic?

    Needless to say I don’t believe that many in the church I attend would agree that i’ve fully heard from the Lord? However I’ve also shared my heart with another brother in Christ who is also my mentor and he has been feeling alot of the same emotions as me, and he thinks it’s time for us to seek some other wise counsel and see if the Lord is telling us if it’s time to make a move. He has mentored me for about 3 years now and he nows my heart, and my heart is to serve the Lord and reach the lost and hurting because i’ve, “been there, done that.” And trust me when I say, many walk away from the church because of the aproach to sharing the truth of Gods word.

    At this point I am seeking the Lord dilegently and I almost feel as if I don’t want to step into the church that i’ve been attending because of this tithe issue. I’ve spoke with my wife and i’ve told her what i’ve felt and i’ve told her that we should only give offerings at this point till the Lord tells me different and she agrees?

    And if I were to give the tithe now I would feel as if I were doing it more out of a religious requirement, and I don’t want to feel that way, i’d rather find a new church or start up a ministry and start tithing there?

    So as you see I have a dilemma, and there is confusion, and I know that the Lord has not giving us the spirit of confusion.

    I would like to leave this church with their blessings but as usual i’m the type of person who shares his heart and somtimes as a result I rub off on some wrong? So at this point it does not look as this will happen, and in a sense that concerns me because then it would seem as if it was all about the moneyin this church?

    You can give me your feedback if you wish, trust me this is not an easy situation for me. It will effect my wife and children if I misunderstand what the Lord is calling me to, but then again, the Lord has alway been on my side and He has watched over me even when I was in rebellion before redeicating my life to Him this last time. And I am truly not in rebellion nor am I offended at this church, I just seeking His wisdom, which I believe will not line up with mans wisdom.

    God Bless,

    Andy

  2. Erick

    Hi Bro! This a good article that you posted! I’m also finding my place where God is calling me. I know God is up to something thats why I’m preparing myself. I have a desire to b a pastor but I don’t know if God is really calling me.

    Thanks for the tips!

    Erick
    Manila Philippines

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