Have You Been Called to Preach?
How does one know if he or she has been called to preach? Or to reword the question: Have you been called to the ministry?
First, we must understand that only God can call one into the ministry. Often, someone enters the ministry at the nudging of their significant other, while others pursue the ministry because of parental influence; or to quote a phrase, they are “Mama called and Papa sent.” Consequently, it is paramount to know that God has called you, not others. If God has not called you and you try to force the ministry to work, you will be miserable for the rest of your life. That’s not what God intends for you.
God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). In fact, the Bible says in Psalm 37:23, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way." The Lord will lead you where He wants you to go and, as the familiar phrase states, “The will of the Lord will never lead you where His grace cannot keep you.”
When God fills us with His Spirit (Holy Ghost) we are all called to do something for Him. "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). However, that doesn't necessarily mean God called us to preach. Often, we misinterpret what God wants us to do because we think being “called by God” means He has called us into the pulpit ministry. That’s not always the case.
Our areas of service to God vary and are limitless. Some are called to hold street meetings; some are called to teach Sunday School or Bible studies, while others are called to foreign mission fields or to simply pray for their missionaries and pastors. Every ministry—whatever God places on our heart—is valuable to His kingdom.
A preacher alone cannot win the lost; he must surround himself with people who desire to do the work of the ministry. The Bible tells us that we are all different parts that make up one body. "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office" (Romans 12:4). We all must work together. Don’t allow yourself to envy someone else’s calling. Your calling is just as important to the Kingdom of God as any other.
So how can you know God has called you to the ministry?
1) You will hear from God. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). To be called by God is to "hear" from God. We must ask ourselves: "Have I put myself in a position to hear from God?" In other words, is your prayer life consistent? Do you fast often? The multiple distractions of daily life can prevent us from hearing from God. Prayer and fasting cleanses our bodies and minds to be more sensitive to the voice of the Lord.
God calls different people in different ways. Some people hear the audible voice of God while others (a greater majority) sense a strong impression by the Spirit. Either way, it is an undeniable calling. Something inside burns with truth as God speaks to our hearts (Luke 24:32). We desire to spend all of our time studying the Word of God and nothing else satisfies. We experience what the prophet Jeremiah said, “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones" (Jeremiah 20:9).
2) You will develop a burden for the lost. Those called to the ministry will have an enormous burden for the lost and dying of this world. Your heart will break for those without God and your desire to reach them will, at times, overwhelm you. Teaching Bible studies or knocking on doors will rank high on your priority list. On the other hand, if the thought of sinners going to hell where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42) doesn’t bother you, it is a good sign that God hasn’t called you. Throughout Scripture, wherever Jesus ministered, His main focus was to "seek and to save that which is lost" (Luke 19:10).
3) You will strive to be more like Him. To be called by God is to be more like Him. The disciples left whatever they were doing to follow Jesus and do whatever He wanted instead. Sometimes, to follow God and His calling means we have to separate ourselves from our friends and even some of our family members. It means we will no longer go to certain places or do certain things because of our intense desire to be more like Jesus. We are always conscience of changing “from glory to glory” to lead a life pleasing to God.
Finally, be careful what you pray for because John 1:11 reads, "He came unto his own and his own received him not." To follow your calling is often lonely because--" to lead the orchestra, you have to turn your back to the crowd."
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path” (Proverbs 3:5-6).