What are 5 signs that you are being called by God to preach? What signs might you suggest?
An Inward Confirmation
I taught Sunday school for many years but after a while, it seemed that something was missing. It was a gaping hole in my heart that it wasn’t enough, I needed to do more. Don’t get me wrong, I loved teaching Sunday school for 3rd/4th graders (combined class) but I had this passionate desire to study the Word of God and then to pass on that knowledge to others. Every day I would listen to Bible teachers and grew to love learning from these men but most of the things I studied were a bit beyond the Sunday school level. I had felt this for some time but I kept resisting it, thinking “Who do I think I am to be called for such a thing?” I believe it was like Jeremiah 20:9 “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” This fire was unquenchable. I was going to explode if I couldn’t preach or teach others. I was completely miserable thinking that I couldn’t do this. I felt it so strongly that I didn’t care if I got paid or not…I had to preach! It was like an irresistible pull. I truly believe now, looking back on this from the vantage point of many years now, it was God calling me. If God is not doing the calling, then it is not a true calling.
An Outward Confirmation
For many years, I had co-workers come up to me and ask me about things in the Bible or what I thought about their life’s circumstances. Things like what can I do to save my marriage, I am struggling with pornography, I am battling an addiction and I just can’t overcome it. I spent a lot of time researching these subjects and I had an overwhelming urge to go to seminary, which I did. Time after time my friends, family, and mainly my co-workers told me that I’d make a great pastor because of the counsel that they received. I didn’t rely on my own wisdom. I picked the brains of Christian marriage counselors, Bible teachers, and searched the Scriptures for biblical responses. When I came as a guest to a church that wanted to create an Outreach, their pastor retired that very week and I was asked to fill the pulpit. The church validated my inward calling by telling me that they sensed that God was calling me to be a pastor…their pastor! I resisted this for a long time before they finally became exasperated and told me flat out, “You’re ignoring what God is trying to tell you!”
A Church’s Calling
When I came to the church I am at now to train them on evangelism and Outreach man years ago, as I mentioned, their pastor retired and I was asked to fill the pulpit and I did so, although reluctantly at first. After a while, I felt such a sense of purpose, fulfillment, joy, and pleasure that I finally felt that I must have been called by God. It was after a time filling the pulpit that the church ended their search for a pastor. They called the church board to vote on ordaining me and by a total majority, they voted to ordain me and so the church ordained me and I had never been happier. If you are called by God to be a pastor, God will open the door for you somewhere. I didn’t open this door, God did. God is the one who opens doors that no man can open (Rev 3:8). If God doesn’t open the door for you to preach at a church, you might think about whether this is truly God’s calling or not, however He may give you some time to study, go to seminary, or He may be waiting for the best church to place you in because it is God Who places the members of the church where it pleases Him (1 Cor 12:18) and not where it pleases us because God always does what He pleases (Psalm 135:6).
In Inward Hunger
I touched on this before but I wanted to expand on this as a separate sign because before I was finally placed in a church by God I had this ravenous hunger to learn more about the Word of God. Just reading the Bible wasn’t enough for me, although that is an essential sign too. I wanted to dig deeper into the original languages that the Bible was written in; Hebrew, Greek, and some Aramaic. I also wanted to learn about translations, transliteration, exegesis, hermeneutics, and more such areas of study. Hermeneutics was especially of interest to me because it is that which is applied to the interpretation, or exegesis of Scripture. Exegesis is the investigation into the history and origins of the text but it may also include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the authors of the books of the Bible as well as a study of the text and the original audience. Does that sound like something that interests you? If so, it may be a sign that you are being called by God to be a pastor.
A Broken Heart for the Lost
This sign should be in every believer but it might even be more so with those being called into the pastorate. If you care about people’s eternity so much that you’re willing to face rejection, scorn, ridicule, and persecution for the sake of sharing the gospel, you might have a calling from God. Don’t get me wrong, we all are called to make disciples of all people (Matt 28:19-20) but this desire to rescue the perishing is something that cannot be contained. You won’t even hesitate to witness to a total stranger. Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of all time and a man whose heart broke for the lost once said “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unsprayed for.” Is that what you feel?
If you have most or all of these signs and you are thoroughly convinced of them, then you may have already been called by God so I suggest, talk to others and see if they affirm this in you. Look inwardly and see if you’d be totally miserable doing anything else but preaching. Look to see if you an insatiable appetite to dig deep into the Word of God. Does this calling seem to come from your church? And finally, is there a heart that breaks for the lost and so much so that you’d be willing to witness to anyone for the sake of Christ? If this is the case with you, then God may be calling you into the pastorate. Believe me, you won’t be able to ignore it, I guarantee that because it will be like a burning fire shut up in your bones and you’ll be weary trying to hold it in, for indeed, you cannot.