Why do you do whatever it is you “do” in life? If you’re a student, an executive, a lawnmower repairman or whatever it is…why did you decide to head in that direction? Chances are there may be some pretty good common sense reasons for your choice: a good opportunity, the need to pay bills, maybe the expectations of other around you.
When you become a pastor they don’t talk like that. Suddenly the whole “what-to-do-when-you-grow-up” takes on a much more pious tone. You don’t merely decide to become a pastor, you discern a call. Sounds a lot more mysterious–kind of like Jake and Elwood Blues deciding to get their band back together in Blues Brothers. That kind of talk is taken as normal for preacher-types, and I’ve had a lot of conversations where I’ve told people of the process through which God called me to serve him in full-time ministry.
But to a lot of people that kind of talk would sound funny applied to other jobs or professions. “When did you discern your call to drive that delivery truck?” “When did you discover God was calling you to be a personal-injury attorney? Somehow it seems strange to think of people in other jobs actually being called to those professions.
OK, let me get more specific with you: when did you first realize that God was calling you to (insert your job or school status here)? Chances are most non-minister types would look at me kind of funny in the face of a question like that. People may choose their jobs for an of a number of reasons, but a clear call from God usually isn’t very high on the list.
That seems strange to me. The Bible speaks so clearly about God’s plans for our lives: Eph. 2:10 reminds us that we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do”. Psalm 139 assures us that “all the days ordained for (us) were written in His book before one of them came to be.” If God has plans for every single day of our lives, and if there are some very specific reasons why you and I are exactly where we are–then wouldn’t it make sense for us to ask God what He wants us to do? And if we start to get tired of whatever that was, wouldn’t it make sense to ask Him again before jumping into whatever comes next.
In our denomination we take a minister’s call very seriously. In fact there are pretty tight restrictions placed on people like me who have been called to ministry. I think that’s good; if God called me to something I should think twice before jumping into something else just for a change. What if we did that with substitute teachers or computer techs or with oil change specialists?