Summary: Does God still call men and women to full time ministry? What does it mean to be "called"?
The Highest Call
or Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Preachers
"So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.”
What does it mean to be “called”? Today, we are celebrating God’s call upon the live of Pastor Randy Tingle. Today, the Church of God will recognize God’s call upon Pastor Randy’s life by ordaining him to the ministry. God’s call to Pastor Randy did not come to him today, nor has Pastor Randy waited to answer the call until the Church ordained him. The church’s ordination is simply a recognition of God’s ordination.
But What does the Bible say about the call of God for ministry?
Isn’t everyone called? Don’t we all have a calling? Or only a select few? The concept of a call is one of the most profound of all biblical ideas. The Bible is filled with stories about calls to men and women who, when summoned to service, went out and marked their generation in a particular way. Such calls had several commonalities.
First, in one way or another, GOD is the One Who calls. God the Father called Abraham, Moses, and Isaiah.
“Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.” (NIV)
Jesus called 12 men “to be with Him” and then sent them out to disciple.
“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve-- designating them apostles-- that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.”
The Holy Spirit called Saul and Barnabas and others to apostolic opportunity.
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (NIV)
In other words, YOU CANNOT CALL YOURSELF TO THE MINISTRY!
A young farmer, standing in his field, observes a peculiar cloud formation. The clouds form the letters G, P, and C, and he thinks them a call from God: Go Preach Christ!
The farmer rushes to the leadership of his church and insists he has been called to preach. Respectfully, they invite him to fill the pulpit.
The following Sunday, the sermon is long, tedious, and virtually non-understandable. When it finally ends, the leaders sit in stunned silence. Finally a wise deacon mutters to the would-be preacher, “Seems to me the clouds must have been saying, ‘Go Plant Corn.’”
Secondly, Biblical calls were quite unpredictable. Gideon responded to the call by saying,
"But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." (Judges 6:15) There was no reason God should have called Gideon. He was not the oldest of his family, nor the strongest, and even his family was the smallest of the small. Yet God called Gideon. The Apostle Paul’s testimony was: “I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.” (Galatians 1:13, 15-16) There was no reason God should have called Paul, but he did. In other words, GOD CALLS PEOPLE, NOT BASED ON THEIR ABILITY, BUT THEIR AVAILABILITY! God could easily say: “Can You Hear Me Now?” “Good!”
Thirdly, biblical calls were usually mind-boggling and seemingly impossible. What did God call Noah to do? Build a boat big enough to house a floating zoo in the middle of the desert where rain has never fallen. Most likely, Noah, nor anyone, anywhere around him, at anytime in their lifetime, has ever seen the ocean, much less a boat of any kind! We don’t even know if Noah or his sons had any carpentry skills! But God said, “Build an ark,” and Noah did! The call God gives is so compelling that it gives courage to the one called. In other words, WHAT GOD CALLS US TO DO WILL RARELY MAKE SENSE TO EVERYONE ELSE!
Fourthly, calls to ministry in the New Testament are confirmed by the church.
“In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
In other words, WHILE GOD’S CALL MAY NOT MAKE SENSE, GOD CONFIRMS HIS CALLING TO US THROUGH PEOPLE WHO LOVE GOD AND ARE PRAYING FOR US.