The Calling of God on Your Life
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God… 1 Corinthians 1:1
“What am I supposed to do with my life?” is a question everyone will ask at some point in their life. The Lord can answer that question for you! Every Christian has a calling on their life. The Lord desires for each Christian to dedicate their life to serve Him. Romans 12:1-2 speak about this dedication. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
As we read the first verse of I Corinthians, we learn that Paul was called to be an Apostle. Apostles were eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus Christ on the earth. Paul met Jesus while he was on his way to persecute Christians in the town of Damascus. His name was Saul at the time, but when he met Jesus, his life was changed, his name was changed, and he then begins to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with his life, answering the call to be an apostle. Today, there are no eyewitnesses to the life of Christ, so there can be no apostles. However, you can be a disciple of Christ. You could become a pastor, missionary, evangelist, teacher, or a deacon. At some point this year, the Lord may show you His calling for your life. Have you found the will of God yet? All of us as believers are Disciples of Christ: The Lord calls Christians to be school teachers, engineers, mechanics, and airplane pilots. Kent Hughes tells the following missionary story:
“A missionary to Africa told the story of an elderly woman who was reached with the gospel. Though she was blind and could neither read nor write, she wanted to share her new found faith with others. She went to the missionary and asked for a copy of the Bible in French. When she got it, she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in red and mark the page it was on so she could find it. The missionary wanted to see what she would do, so one day he followed her. In the afternoon, just before school let out, she made her way to the front door. As the boys came out when school was dismissed, she would stop one and ask if he knew how to read French. When he said “Yes” she would ask him to read the verse that was marked in red. Then she would ask, “Do you know what this means?” and tell him about Christ. The missionary said that twenty-four of the school boys that lady led to the Lord became pastors.” All of us can serve God in some meaningful way!
In addition to everyday disciples, the Lord also calls preachers and missionaries. It could be at summer Bible camp. It could happen at mission conference, revival meeting, or church service – the Lord could show you His calling for your life. What will you do? Will you follow His will? Jonah, the Old Testament preacher to Nineveh, ran the other way when God showed him His calling for his life. Jonah did not want to preach at Nineveh. You don’t have to be like Jonah, be like Paul and answer the call to serve the Lord, fulfilling His will in His life. We may call this “Responding to the Call.” Pray about what the Lord will have you do with your life. Sports, entertainment, and other activities can be good, but they can also pull you away from the will of the Lord. A girlfriend or boyfriend, or a relationship can be good, but make sure you respond to God’s call first. Making money and holding down a job can be fine, but make sure that you respond to God’s call to serve Him in whatever service is His will for your life.
Another important part of God’s calling on our lives is Recognition of God’s Call to Ministry. The Bibles says in I Timothy 1:12, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…” After the Lord called Paul to Ministry, the calling was confirmed in Paul’s life by three things. They were the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God. Whenever the Lord calls people into ministry today, all three affirmations are still needed. I have met people that do now know how the Lord called them to serve in a particular way. I have also met Christians who say, they do not care about what other Christians say about their calling. Attitudes like this can be dangerous. There have been many cults and heretical teachings that develop with people reacting this way. If you feel called to “vocational ministry” check for these three:
The Word of God is the first way to know God’s call. Paul had a burning desire to “preach the Word.” He had a love for the Bible and an intense desire to see people saved and churches established. This calling of the Word never contradicts the Bible in method or practice and Paul met all the qualifications to enter into full-time vocational ministry. Be sure to read the Pastoral Epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus to see the Bible’s qualifications for ministers. Secondly, the Spirit of God is given to us to direct and guide us. Acts 1:8 tell us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses. You may have a quiet spirit, but the Lord can embolden you and every Christian to tell others about Christ. The Spirit of God will direct those called to say “yes” to the call. Finally, there are the People of God. I have known some believers that want to enter full-time ministry, but their church will not recognize them as a pastor or missionary. Perhaps they have doctrinal error they hold to. Perhaps their personality choices come across brash or unkind. Maybe they are gossipers or rebellious to authority. Perhaps they have not yet received proper ministry training. A Bible based church would not recognize a call unless these matters are cleared up. The people of God recognize and re-affirm God’s call on a Bible qualified candidate for ministry, who is Spirit led and Spirit filled. This can be done in an Ordination service. If you ever have the chance to attend an Ordination Council and service, I hope that you take advantage of that. You will learn much Bible doctrine if you attend, and you will also see the recognition of God’s people on a man for the Lord. It takes Paul about 8 years after his conversion to Christianity that we know him as the “Apostle Paul.” Consider this: In Acts 9 we find Paul meeting Christ and being saved. Galatians 1:17-18, Paul tells us what he did after being saved: “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.” Paul took time away from everyone to meet with the Lord and to study. We look at this time as preparation for Gospel Ministry. He was a man who knew the Hebrew Bible better than most, and now he was going to be used of the Lord to preach and even write parts of the New Testament. (By the way, an important note to make for today is preparation for ministry. Bible College takes about four years. Teacher training takes at least four years.) Even with three years passing, some people still doubted Paul was for real. Some of the local church leaders still thought of Paul as “Saul the Persecutor.” With the help of Barnabas, church leaders start to see Paul as a servant of the Lord. In Acts 9:29-30, Barnabas introduces Paul to the church in Jerusalem. They listen to Paul, but are not ready to work with him yet. They send him to his hometown of Tarsus. Paul stays there for five more years after which Barnabas, who is preaching in Antioch, sends for Paul to have Paul help him minister the Word (Acts 11:25-26). It was while Paul started his ministry with Barnabas that the believers in Antioch were first called “Christians.” It took eight years for Paul to be recognized by others in the ministry. After this, we find Paul in active ministry: traveling, establishing churches, preaching messages, and sending letters to the churches.
Paul had the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God confirm the calling of God on his life. A life in ministry without these three affirmations will be difficult and will probably not last very long. Be patient, serve the Lord and grow in the opportunities that open up to you. Avoid forcing yourself into a position your pastor or other spiritual leaders know that you are not prepared for…yet.
If you are not called to ministry, that is OK too. Be sure that you support your church leaders and support those who are in vocational ministry. Your service in helping ministers is important! I heard Evangelist Byron Foxx say: “Every Christian should either be a preacher or be helping a preacher.” Those that are not preachers should be helping their preacher in advancing the Gospel.
Are you called to ministry? Do you have these three affirmations in your life? At this point in my life, I have been preaching for around 15 years. I remember the moments in my life when I saw these affirmations for ministry calling. I am like Paul in saying, that I am thankful the Lord has called me to ministry. Seek the will of the Lord, and God will show you His will. When He does show you, follow it with all of your heart!