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Am I Called to Ministry?

March 18, 2014


As a young pastor and seminary graduate, I get this question a lot.  The answer requires a good deal of discernment.  I am guessing that, if you are reading this, it is a question you have as well.  So, here’s what I would recommend: First, pray that you would be open-handed with regards to your desires, plans, and expectations, and submit them fully to the will of the Lord and his timing. Second, seek out the leaders of your church to begin a careful, Spirit-directed process of equipping and assessing your qualifications and giftings.  Fitness for pastoral ministry requires character, conviction, competency, conduct in the home, and the confirmation of the church.  It is not determined merely by an inward desire. Third, during this process read a lot about pastoral ministry to assess your readiness with the help of others (see the reading list below).  And fourth, listen.  Submit to the Word of God and the wisdom of those who love you and have gone before you.  There is so much more I could say about the call to minister, but here’s a list of resources from men who can say it better:

Start here, with a three-part series from the 9Marks blog by Bobby Jamieson.  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  These are a quick read, but will wisely and graciously challenge many of our misconceptions regarding the “call to ministry.”  Thanks to Peter for pointing these out.

Next, I always have our interns or would-be interns read an old booklet by Dave Harvey entitled, “Am_I_Called_Discerning_the_Summons_to_Ministry.”  Harvey has now expanded it into a book which you can find here.

Consider those a primer.  Now for the course list:

  1. The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges
  2. Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch
  3. Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon
  4. The Cross and Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson
  5. Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp
  6. The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Z. Witmer
  7. Pastoral Ministry by John MacArthur
  8. Shepherds After My Own Heart by Timothy Laniak
  9. The Missionary Call by David Sills
  10. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper

This is a good start on what it truly means to be a pastor.  We need other shepherds to train us to shepherd others.  Don’t neglect the wisdom of those who have gone before you.  With the help of the church, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).


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