Saturday, 08 December 2012 12:00

You Know You're Called to This Work When.... Part 1

Written by Joe McKeever

My pastor friend was about to conduct the most difficult funeral of his nearly 20 year ministry. He and I had discussed it and I had prayed for him. His heart was breaking for the young family that was laying to rest two close loved ones.

In a private moment, I said to him, "Pastor to pastor, I want to ask you something. Even though this is tearing your heart out, do you find yourself thinking, 'I'd rather be here doing this than anywhere else in the world'?"

He said, "I do! I really do."

I said, "That's how you know you are really called to this work."

He was quiet a moment, then added, "I tell my wife--pastors' wives understand these things--that my favorite part of pastoring, what I do best, is the funeral of a Christian. It's hard, it can be gut-wrenching, but this is our moment to shine, the event which brings together all the great stuff we believe so strongly."

God-called pastors understand.

Only the called will understand.

In a meeting of the directors of mission for the Baptists of our state, an item on our agenda, one we discussed out of great concern but for which we arrived at no solution, was "helping pastors know if they are called (or not) into the ministry."

There ought to be a way to help uncalled ministers to recognize their situation, then step away from this work and find something else to do.

Some will ask why, what difference it makes.

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 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.

Let's do this into two sections. 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...(log on next week for Part 2)

First: You know you are not called into the pastoral ministry when...

1) ... you cannot take the criticism, the antagonism, the animosity of the very people you came to minister to.

2) ...the church votes to fire you and you get angry, leave in a huff and quit preaching.

"Woe to me if I preach not the gospel," said Paul (I Corinthians 9:16).

3)...the lay leadership wants to add another Sunday morning service and a Christmas Eve service, and you rebel because it adds to your work load.

If you are looking for ways to do less and less in the ministry, that is a dead giveaway that you are not called.

4)...you do not love the people you're ministering to.

You find yourself criticizing them, making jokes about them to other pastors, and resenting every time the phone rings or a member drops by the office.

You were not called, friend.

If you are not called by God, there may be a few churches that will never know the difference. They do not ask much from a pastor and you don't have much to give, so it works out. But most churches will push you to your limit. If you do not love them and are not willing to give your all in serving them, please do yourself and the Kingdom of God a favor, friend, and go into another line of work.

Please join me next week for a discussion of those who ARE called.

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