Discerning a Call to Ministry
Now that's a mouthful if ever I've written one. What does that even mean: discerning a call to ministry?
I don't have any idea.
I think it's a nice way to say that I figured out that I *can't* do anything else; I *must* be in full-time ministry.
When I was getting ready to go to seminary, my friend Roby told me, "If you can do anything else, then do it."
What he meant was that even though I was feeling a pull to seminary and to enter some kind of full-time ministry career, if there was any other way I could live, then maybe the ministry wasn't for me.
I didn't really get it then, but after a lot of soul-searching, I think I do. Here's the thing: I wouldn't be fulfilled in any other line of work. The fact is, I *must* be about the LORD's work.
I first started to realize that God was calling me to do something for Him after I went to Russia on a mission trip. There's something about being a full-time missionary (even for only 6 1/2 weeks) that makes one evaluate what's true and what's worthwhile.
I realized that some things I valued weren't of much value to God and some things I badly wanted weren't things that God wanted and some things I feared weren't of any consequence to God.
And God spoke through me while I was there, obedient to Him.
Talking about this experience with a trusted small group of friends helped me to understand that this was God's plan for my life. Very encouraging, but kind of scary, too.
Seminary was a great time of growth for me; besides a whole bunch of fantastic book knowledge, I gained a deeper intimacy with God and a more healthy understanding of pastors, potential pastors, and seminary professors as regular humans (for good or not).
I love being in ministry, because for all of my life, God has been preparing me for it. If you are in the midst of wondering "Is God calling me to ministry" here is a page with some further stories from other young clergy about their call to ministry. And if you're in the 18-24 range, you'll want to check out this event.