Am I called? The summons to pastoral ministry
By Dave Harvey.
I was actually quite helped by this book in thinking through questions and ideas about calling and ministry. My notes below
If the spirit is pulling on you and you think that pull is towards pastoral ministry, let the spirit of God (thru this book) bring clarity to that tug.
1. THE SUMMONS AS I SEE IT
- A call away from one thing, to another – the most glorious and strategic thing a Christian man can experience: pastoral ministry.
- God isn’t haphazard in whom he calls and what he calls men to do
- I just want to know the saviour and learn to worship him with my life
- Connect the call to ministry to my identity in Christ i.e. be who I am in Christ and respond to his call to serve him.
2. SUMMONED TO THE SAVIOUR
- The call is about the caller i.e. it’s God’s initiative, who calls us to himself before he asks us to do anything.
- The call is God calling people to himself i.e. effective call i.e. salvation call before anything else
- The gospel of Grace – God at the bottom of it all. We seek him because he sought us, bought us.
- There is no call to ministry that is not a call to Christ
- The gospel supplies my identity. The call to sonship is greater than the call to pastor.
- The gospel is adequate – I’m not. So turn your eyes away from own inadequacies, and see God’s glory displayed
- God arranges ministry so it flows from weakness.
- The gospel sets priorities – pursue God passionately in private before the pulpit.
The gospel really matters – so preach, apply, value it in everyday life – this is pastoral ministry
- All Christians are called to full-time ministry – to bear fruit as a disciple of JC.
3. THE CONTEXT OF THE CALL – the local church
- Spend and be spent – 2 Cor 12:15
- A man called to pastoral ministry will pulse with ambition/aspiration to this end.
- The church is not career path but place to give your life away.
- Biblical qualifications for pastoring are character based. But the local church better place to assess/train character than Bible college.
- The best and most proper place for education and preparation of pastors is the local church
- “Although the work is too great for you…the cause is good – better than life. The campaign is short. Being found faithful, you will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away”
4. ARE YOU GODLY?
- God’s call upon a man delivers the grace necessary for the godliness ahead, and so God’s work in a man demonstrates God’s call i.e. you will know called men because grace is already active to create godliness.
- God’s standards are not burdensome; they confirm God’s sovereign purpose and active grace.
- Objective standards: Character must be above reproach to maintain credibility of life and doctrine – See 1 Tim 3, Titus 1
- Note that qualifications for ministry also mean you can be disqualified for ministry.
- Biblical leadership is competencies + character (unlike other professions where competency is enough)
- A pastor is a Christian summoned to serve God’s people.
- Do I want self fulfillment, or to serve others/God?
- Lead through your life, as well as through your lips i.e. do as I do, not just as I say e.g. consider Jesus’ life and ministry – deed and word i.e. talk about scripture through how I apply it.
- Greatest need of the church is my personal holiness i.e. pastor exemplifies high water maturity mark
- Your doctrine will be their doctrine when you live it out before them.
5. HOW’S YOUR HOME?
- A vital sign of the summons: a home managed well
Note significance of domestic life in 1 Tim 3, Titus 1.
- Quickest way to determine if qualified to lead church is if they are leading the home well.
- exemplary marriage
- supportive and accountable wife – 1 Tim 3:11 – summons on wife as well not to lead but be example
- faithful children
- The family culture is one of respect, obedience and Godward orientation.
6. CAN YOU PREACH?
- 1 Tim 3:2 – the only non character-based attribute i.e. the only specific skill is ‘ability to teach’
PREACH THE WORD 2 Tim 4:1-2
- Preaching – the God ordained way to save, sanctify and strengthen his church.
- Consider impact of false teaching on early church i.e. every letter mentions false teaching/false doctrine.
- So preaching is vital to preserve/cherish the gospel
- Preaching is not just conveying content – it’s content that reveals JC – see above. Must lead to changed lives
- study diligently
- be ready to suffer – God will ordain trials to help you pastor and teach
- be vigilant – watch, evaluate, welcome scrutiny. the unexamined life is not worth living
- gospel clear?
- bible handled well?
- people eager to hear him?
- people helped?
- outsiders impressed?
Make God’s word plain, understandable, compelling and applicable.
7. CAN YOU SHEPHERD?
The summons is not first about what you must do, but about what God has done in Christ, and what God provides for those who lead his church
Ideas based in 1 Peter 5:1-4 (Note JC command to Peter to shephard)
A real shepherd works hard (24/7), gets dirty, jack of all trades
Care – willing and eager, careful, diligent watching (oversight) – a guardian with boots on the ground
Love – preaching and the people you preach to – not one or the other. Sturdy, biblical, trutful
Connect sheep to the chief shepherd – in ordinariness of life – warts and all
via ‘follow him’ factor
via finding solutions
via creating order/purpose/plan
via mobilise the troops i.e. delegate
via growing to lead better
via godly ambition i.e. do it all for the glory of God and advancement of his kingdom
Enjoy team ministry – the NT consistently witnesses to shared pastoral leadership. Isolation risk is real
Keep Christ first. Only Christ is what people really need – bear witness to his suffering, remind them of his return to get them, counsel boldly of his power to change them
8. DO YOU LOVE THE LOST?
Charles Spurgeon – If sinners be damned, let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they perish, perish with our arms around their knees. Let not one go to hell unwarned and unprayed for.
A call to ministry is a call to laboring among the lost.
But at the same time, a bit removed from front lines i.e. strategic – equipping the church for evangelism
2 Tim 4:5
DO – if you don’t want to reach people with the gospel, you aren’t called to pastor
THE WORK – upward, outward and inward – all 3 in balance. To have a cultural impact, 1/4 of growth needs to be from conversions
OF AN EVANGELIST – heralds of the good news. Live as if you are one-word away from a life-changing encounter every moment
Charles (again) The ambassadors for peace should not cease to weep bitterly until sinners weep for their sins.
9. WHO AGREES?
The threefold independent cords of calling
1. internal calling – involves character, gifting, preaching capabilities, a heart to care, a love for the lost. Must be compelling and enduring. Sometimes creeping, sometimes suddent
2. Preparation – what to do inbetween calling and geting confirmation
3. external confirmation – process of evaluation by the church affirming/validating God’s call
10. WHILE YOU WAIT
Have faith in God’s abundant goodness and wisdom.
A key signs of the summons is godly ambition that’s being channeled into action. Calling is revealed in service.
Rest assured that the office will come to the man who is fit for the office.
Love God, serve others, grow in grace, trust God.
The ultimate test of called man is whether he cares more for advancement of the gospel more than his own ministry.