We’ve been doing a lot of reflection as we near the end of our ordination journey. One of the areas I’ve been thinking about is calling—God’s call to ministry.
My understanding of God’s call have evolved over the years. When I was in Kindergarten, I knew that God called people to “preach” (my grandfather was a preacher). In my five-year-old mind, I thought God only called a few people so I figured the odds of God calling me to preach were pretty slim. But a decade and a half later, I began processing God’s call on my life.
Even though I started out thinking of God’s call as a “call to preach” (which I noticed recently is the language used in the early Methodist books of discipline), I have come to believe that all Jesus followers are called to ministry (see UMC.org’s The Ministry of All Christians).
I now understand my call more specifically as a call to leadership in ministry. Two Scripture passages come to mind when I think about leadership in ministry:
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul writes that God gave leaders responsibility to equip the church for ministry:
He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4.11-13)
Acts 6 records a crucial time in the history of the church when leaders needed to start focusing on their calling and releasing ministry to others:
About that time, while the number of disciples continued to increase, a complaint arose. Greek-speaking disciples accused the Aramaic-speaking disciples because their widows were being overlooked in the daily food service. The Twelve called a meeting of all the disciples and said, “It isn’t right for us to set aside proclamation of God’s word in order to serve tables. Brothers and sisters, carefully choose seven well-respected men from among you. They must be well-respected and endowed by the Spirit with exceptional wisdom. We will put them in charge of this concern. As for us, we will devote ourselves to prayer and the service of proclaiming the word.” This proposal pleased the entire community. They selected Stephen, a man endowed by the Holy Spirit with exceptional faith, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. The community presented these seven to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. God’s word continued to grow. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased significantly. Even a large group of priests embraced the faith. (Acts 6.1-7)
As I said, my understanding God’s call has evolved over the years, and I’m sure it will continue to do so. Last year’s Training Day for provisional members, featuring Rev. Tom Berlin, was helpful in further clarifying my own call. As I reflected on what I am passionate about, I realized that my heart is to lead people to serve Christ in the world with warm hearts and active hands!
How do you understand your call to ministry?