Only the called of God see the ministry as a lifework for the Lord Jesus regardless of the pay, the appreciation, or the fruit. Only the called keep preaching when no church will employ them and when the disgruntled from the last two churches are bad-mouthing them to pastor search committees.
You have to be called. That's all there is to it.
Last week we posted the first in this series. The first section: “You know you are not called to this work when...” and the second, “You know God called you into this work when...”
1)...the work is hard, the rewards are few, the complaining is multiplying, and you are more fulfilled than in anything you've ever done in your life.
2)...you preached your heart out, you know beyond a doubt that the hand of God was on you, but the only response from the congregation was griping that you went overtime. And you are still happy to be serving those people in that pastorate.
3)...the deacons are discussing your ministry (pro and con; you do have your supporters) while you sit there in silence, and you find the peace of Christ settling upon you. You sense within yourself a strong love for your critics.
4)...you can't do anything else.
A pastor friend wrote about a church he served. “There was a time when I was in a difficult church. A small group of leaders had force-terminated the previous four pastors, and now they were trying to run me off. They were hypercritical, they fabricated allegations against me, and they wanted me gone.
“I became frustrated and weary and began exploring other career options. In fact, I even found one. However, the Lord would not let me leave. He confirmed in my heart that I was called to pastor and He had sent me to that church. He restored my joy and gave me the perseverance needed to ride out the storm.”
5)...you take a well-needed vacation and when it's over, you can't wait to get back.
You miss your people and miss what you do.
6)...you sincerely love the people you are ministering to. They're sinful and can be difficult and the work is emotionally and spiritually draining. But you love them in a way that feels that it must be how the Lord loves them.
7)...you are truly burdened for the spiritual well-being of your people.
This keeps you awake at night, occupies your mind in the day, and drives the programming of your ministry.
Far from running from this kind of burden and the demands of this heavy a ministry, you actually embrace it.
Harper Shannon tells of a pastor running into a friend who had left the ministry and was now selling insurance. He asked, "What do you miss most about the work?"
The insurance seller and former pastor said, "I miss the trumpets in the morning."
(That became the title of Harper's book on the pastoral ministry. It's long out of print, but available from used book sellers such as amazon.com and alibris.com.)
Those called of God understand trumpets in the morning.