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by Hilary Tompkins
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Confirming Your Calling to Pastoral Ministry
Are you feeling called to pastoral ministry? If so, what should you do next? Where should you start?
I suggest you start by investigating three areas of your life through the lens of Paul’s words to Timothy: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:1–2).
Do you really want to do this?
The biblical word translated “aspires” is a strong word. It connotes both passion and volition. It’s a word of both feeling and action. To aspire is to reach out from a place of strong desire.
This raises the question: Do you really want to do this? And if your answer is yes, you should test your commitment. How badly do you want to do this? Are you willing to work hard and wait patiently for it? Why do you want to do this? Is this about you and your significance? Or is it about the fame of Jesus?
Ask yourself the hard questions. Then invite those who already serve as pastors to do the same.
Do you know what you are getting into?
It stands to reason that you should have a good understanding of the office of overseer before you pursue it. Over the years, I have been surprised by how many young men I have met who want to become pastors without grasping the task at hand.
Is this about you and your significance? Or is it about the fame of Jesus?
Spend some time with your pastor. Ask him about his life and work. Shadow him for a week if he is willing. Know what it is that you are committing to before you commit.
Are you prequalified?
Banks and real estate brokers now save time and energy by prequalifying potential buyers for loans. With this strategy, the seller shouldn’t take an offer for purchase seriously unless the buyer is pre-approved to pay the price.
In a similar way, those contemplating a call to pastoral ministry shouldn’t move forward if they aren’t prequalified according to 1 Timothy 3:2–7. This list is made up of 13 character traits and 2 competencies. This doesn’t mean you have to have a perfect prequalification score. Even pastors who have been biblically qualified to serve still have room to grow in each one of these categories. But, I would suggest if you have disqualifying sin in your life according to this list, you should turn your attention and energy to growing as a Christian, husband, dad, and church member.
Know what it is that you are committing to before you commit.
The more important issue is always following Jesus rather than leading his church—for pastors, deacons, and members alike.
When the opinion of others matters most
As countercultural as it may sound, let others make this decision for you. Entrust yourself to those who hold spiritual authority over you. Resolve that you will not pursue a call in ministry until those responsible for you say, “go.”
This will require you to place huge faith in a sovereign and good God. And this is exactly what brings him the greatest pleasure.