How do I know if the LORD has called me to the ministry? One can ponder on this question for a long time without ever finding the answer. I have seen people change their lives to “answer” a call to the ministry, only to see them returning to their prior lives.
How many Pastors and Ministers do you think are there who are doing an ordinary job, selling houses, insurance or something of that nature who thought that they were called to the ministry. Other people only answer the call in their forties of fifties when they realise that the LORD actually wants to use them.
In order to answer this question, I would like to look at some examples we find in the Bible. We will look at three people.
Firstly we can look at the life of Moses. The Farao’s daughter brought Moses up as a prince. He attended only the best schools, and received the best tuition. This is a logical conclusion, as he grew up in the palace. But at age forty, he does a very sorry thing. He decides to stand up for an Israelite and kills an Egyptian. Even the Israelites thought it was a stupid thing to do. Moses had to flee. Ex.2:11-14 “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.”
Moses fled to the desert and ended up being a shepherd in Midian and ends up marry the daughter of one of the priests of Midian. Another forty years later, Moses is called by the LORD. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” (Exodus 3:1-4)
I have emphasised a couple of words in order to illustrate the point. Why the backside of the desert? This is where we would least expect the LORD. We always seek Him in the limelight, where all the activity is. We want to share the limelight with Him. When we are the limelight, it means that we are alone, because God is at the backside of the desert. Jesus was not welcomed by a extravagant reception, neither was a hero’s funeral held for Him. No, He was crucified; the most humiliating death one could die. So if it didn’t happen to Jesus, don’t be surprised if the LORD doesn’t show up at our glittering ceremonies on a Sunday, but where two or three are gathered in His name.
What did the LORD wait for? He waited to see if Moses turned aside to see what was happening. Moses had to show his interest, before being called by the LORD. Ex 4:10-14 “And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.”
So when we look at Moses, we find that he had a very good schooling, but that the LORD had to humble him first before he could be used. Moses had to be interested in what was happening, and not just accept everything at face value. He also tried to deliver Israel by himself by killing an Egyptian, but had to return to Egypt as a shepherd, a work seen by the Egyptians as despicable.
What qualified Moses as someone to be used by the LORD? He was a prince, murderer, shepherd, and stutterer, scared and curious. But he knew the LORD.
The next person is Paul. Now Paul was a Pharisee. Fortunately for us, he also supplied us with a very well written testimonial. “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.” (Galatians 1:13-18) A very interesting point made by Paul, is that he also had to go to the desert, before starting his ministry.
What can we say of Paul? Excellent Bible school education, zealous, hardworking, ambitious, ardent follower of his traditions, persecutor of the Church. But found himself blinded by the LORD in order to teach him to be humble, to love his neighbour, and to teach him about Jesus.
The last person I want to look at is Peter. Who was Peter? “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-20) Peter was a fisherman. Most probably taught how to fish by his father. I believe he only had the education required by a fisherman, which I believe does not require a four year degree or even a diploma. But is this all? “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.”(Matthew 26:33-35) “Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”(Matthew 26:69-75). “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.” (John 18:10)
What do you think went through Peters mind as he denied knowing Jesus? Remember that Peter sat through all of Jesus’ teachings, which included the teaching where Jesus declared that if we will proclaim Him before men, He would proclaim us before His Father. But he just denied Him. Can such a person be used? Absolutely! The LORD allowed that Peter be stripped of everything that was still Peter, before He could use him.
So apart from the fact that Peter was a fisherman, he had a short fuse, and you could not depend on his word. But that was before Pentecost.
What did Jesus declare about Peter? “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-19)
How did Peter react after receiving the baptism with the Spirit? “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:38-41)
What did the Pharisees declare about him? “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
In summary. Peter was unlearned, ignorant, unreliable, but had been with Jesus, immovable from his love for Jesus, and declared by Jesus as the rock on which the Church will be built.
What do we learn from these examples? The LORD will use anyone from any background, education and social standing. But He will use people that choose to follow Him. Did He call you? For sure. What does the Bible declare? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (Matthew 28:19) If you really have to use words, then do it by all means. First complete this calling, and maybe you will find that the LORD will call you to do something else.