by Ryan Beaty
Welcome to the third blog in my “Seven Days of Awesome Blogs” series for Holy Week 2015. I want to say a quick thank you to the amazing women who make up The Preacher Girls for hosting this blog series. Each and every one of them inspire and challenge me in unique ways. I am so happy to be their friend and to be in Christ’s ministry with them!
Three Reasons I Know You are Called by God
In the culture I grew up in, in the faith tradition I am still so grateful to be a part of, there was a glorification, an almost rock star status, for those who were called to ministry. This was particularly evident in high school youth ministry, and took center stage at youth camp. Can I get a witness? A lot of us responded to altar calls crying out to God saying, “Yes God! I will go wherever you send me and do whatever you want me to do!” The unfortunate reality is thought that for many what they meant was, “I want be a cool youth pastor!”
Then we all went off to bible college or ministry training institutes and were confronted with the realities of ministry that isn’t glitz and glamour and we had to start really struggling with the idea of “Am I really called?” Many discovered that they weren’t called to vocational ministry and left to pursue where God was truly leading them. Even now though, years after entering into ministry, a number of clergy people still find themselves questioning at times whether or not God really called them. Today I am going to help you with that.
- We are All Called.
You cannot be a follower of Jesus and not be a participant in the Kingdom of God. You may have had a regenerate experience, but in all practical sense it is illogical and impossible to follow someone if you are not moving. (Argue with me on eternal salvation later.) Movement in the Kingdom of God means service. So everyone in the Kingdom is called to serve. In that sense, well done, you’re called!
I don’t say that to be flippant or patronizing. It’s actually a really awesome and comforting thing to know that we are all called! It means we are all in this together. We all have a job to do. We all have a role to play. God’s Kingdom is bigger than the pastorate or vocational priesthood. It is bigger than the Ephesians chapter four gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastor, teacher). That should take some pressure off. We all have a load to carry and when we do our part and lift our load together, things get accomplished for God!
So are you called? Absolutely! We all are. Welcome to the Kingdom workforce.
- You Said Yes!
You also want to know though whether you have been called to the vocation of ministry. I use the term vocation, though some may object to it, because in definition it means “a calling to work.” In every organization, company, and country there is hierarchy. You see it in people. You see even in the animal kingdom. Bees, ants, pack hunters, all work together with specific jobs to accomplish their goal. Every military has generals and privates and all those in between. Every government has presidents and dogcatchers and all those in between. Every company has CEO’s and junior sales representatives and all those in between.
The Kingdom of God is no different in that sense. The Kingdom of God has bishops and overseers, pastors and vicors, Sunday school teachers and van drivers. We all play different roles and submit to them. How I know you are called however is because at some point you said “yes” to something else.
God asked you to submit yourself to Him in a role of oversight and service that is different than many others. He gifted you to do what He is asking of you in a way He didn’t gift others. Not because you are better but because He is God and does what He wants! And also because you humbled yourself enough to say “yes.” God is always looking for people who will say “yes.” And at some point you said it. A heart that is willing to say “yes” to God is the first sign of a heart that has been called by God.
- Someone Else Saw it in You.
The Kingdom of God does not operate in isolation. We are a family and as such we depend on each other and the gifts God has given to us. We also submit to God by listening to the wise counsel of others who are submitted to Him, particularly those whom He has given authority. Those people will see in us our calling and will confirm it. Sometimes those people are our parents. Other times they are pastors or teachers or mentors. But God always confirms through others our callings.
It was definitely the practice of the early church to confirm and commission callings. The Apostle Paul was first confirmed and commissioned to do the work of the ministry in assistance to Barnabas. It was years after his salvation experience, when he had grown to maturity in Christ, and the leaders of his church saw in him the calling of God. Prior to that, a Godly man named Ananias confirmed the call of God on Paul’s life after hearing from the LORD. Later, Paul would be confirmed and commissioned as an apostle to the Gentiles by the other apostles.
When you are called other people will see it and confirm it. They will support you, help you, and guide you. Don’t take what they have to say lightly. Cherish their endorsement and leadership. There may be times later when you disagree with them (see Peter and Paul in Galatians 2:11-21). But their endorsement and recognition that you are called should encourage and embolden you to do what God has asked you to do.
It’s a joy being called by God and asked to do something in His Kingdom. The best thing we can do in response to that call is to serve with gladness and always remember that it is His Kingdom.
Ryan Beaty is the founding pastor of VillageHouston, an Assemblies of God church located in urban Houston, TX. He is an avid reader, pop-culture nerd, and theology honk. He and his wife, Korista, live in urban Houston where Ryan also serves as the chaplain of an Episcopalian day school.