I have a theory about young men and women that are called into ministry then fall out some point along the way. It’s what I am calling the re-call of ministry. If there is a belief to hearing an initial call, what happens to make these people step away from that direction? Where does the recall happen?
Lately, I have been in situations with people who had one time felt a call to ministry and they aren’t going after it anymore. Years ago, I would have stated those people don’t love God or don’t have enough commitment or something. That might be true. But for many of these people, I wonder if they ever truly heard a call into full-time vocational ministry in the first place. I wonder if they simply heard a call by God to go deeper into that relationship.
Can a person go deeper in commitment to Christ and still keep a job outside of a church office? I think so. But my theory is that we have confused the masses.
Let’s take a 16-year-old guy named Andrew. He has been raised in church. Good kid. Faithful to good activities. At summer youth camp, he feels something working on his heart one night during the message. He tries to process it during share time with the youth group. He knows he is saved. He doesn’t feel like he needs to rededicate anything because he hasn’t been straying that far. But something is definitely going on.
As a whole, what options have churches provided for this young man? If he’s already saved and not living blatantly immoral, the only logical conclusion is that God is calling him into full-time Christian vocation. Or is it? What if God was calling him to lead in his youth group? What if God was calling him to share Christ with his school?
Let’s take a 46-year-old guy named Ryan. He has been raised in church. Good family man. Faithful attender and servant. One night he is called upon to give a testimony to his church. Afterwards, smiley, encouraging, hand-shaking members tell him that he did real good for a first time and that he could be a preacher. At this point in his life, looking for meaning and purpose, tired of his job, he begins to wonder, have I wasted all these years of my life simply serving in the church as a “layman?”
As a whole, what options have churches provided for this older man? Drop everything and get a job preaching somewhere.
Please don’t hear me saying that those type of experiences have not led people into ministry and they were legitimate calls. I know many like that that are bearing tons of fruit. I received a call as a teenager that I really believe was God. But I have also sat in classrooms, seminary libraries, chapel services, and counseling offices with men and women who are struggling to study, preach, shepherd, counsel, and so many other things, that it just seems like something isn’t gelling. And I often wonder: is God pruning this person? Or is this person simply not meant to get a paycheck from a church?
Is it a horrible thing for someone to feel a call to be a faithful Sunday School teacher? What about a doctor who prays with his patients? What about a teacher who shows Christ to her students? Actually, I have seen more ministry done in “non-ministry” positions that I have seen in some people who do have those positions.
I’m not the Holy Spirit. I can’t determine whether or not someone truly has been called into full-time ministry or not. But I am wanting to at least pose the question: does God call us to things other than vocational ministry?