Making the decision to make ministry your vocation can be a thrilling moment in life. You are full of dreams and hopes of being used by God to change the world for the better. But how can you know you are making the right decision or as it is sometimes described “called” to ministry
Roughly 1,500 pastors are quitting ministry every month. You read it. It’s not every year right…but every month. And this can represent potentially thousands of other people in church who are impacted by these pastors leaving the ministry. There are likely many different reasons for quitting. Perhaps one reason pastors leave ministry quickly is that they may be entering ministry too quickly and prematurely without adequately testing their call. How does one test his or her call? What can people do to be confident in their calling and make a lifelong impact on the church?
Here are four ways to help you slow down the process in order to discern God’s voice more clearly and be prepared for a vocation in ministry. For some people, all these steps may not be applicable. But for others, this will be a good guideline to help you better understand your calling into ministry regardless of your age, background, culture and experience.
1. Test your call with TIME
Time is the best way to test your calling especially for younger people in school. For younger people in their teens or in college, I would encourage you to explore the world while in school. Seek after things you are passionate about and see if that call to ministry is still there around graduation. For others, I recommend waiting and praying for three to six months depending on the person, life stage and convictions. This allows you to get over any emotional or spiritual high that they may have received from a conference, retreat or mission trip. This waiting doesn’t mean that you just sit in your room staring at the wall hoping for some magical confirmation. You can also be actively engaged in the suggestions below.
2. Test Your call from OTHERS
When you are praying to confirm God’s call, invite your closest friends and family members to pray for you and then give you their feedback. Their opinions should not be the reason you go into ministry, but rather, they can help you confirm your desires as well as point out things about yourself that would be important to consider in making the decision. Ask them what they believe are your strengths, weaknesses and areas to improve. This will allow you to assess yourself more honestly and see how God has wired you and for what type of ministry God may be calling you into. By invite people into the process you are also creating a team of people to support you in your journey.
3. Test your call with an INTERNSHIP
Many people may have a view of what ministry will be like based only on an outside perspective. It’s important to do an internship at a church in order to experience the inside perspective. You’ll get to see behind the curtain to dispel any myths you have as well as to see what kind of ministry you are passionate about. There are so many different types of pastors and ways to serve, so it’s important to allow yourself the opportunity to see and experience the different types of ministries out there and what might be the best fit for your gifts and passions.
4. Test your call with Wise Mentors
Do you have a mentor? Its essential to have an older pastor who is many steps ahead of you. They can speed your learning process, provide valuable and relevant perspectives, and save you years of mistakes. Seek them out and invite them to speak into your life. Come with a lot of questions and be eager to listen and learn. You will need guidance on this journey because it’s a marathon, not a sprint.