As I travel around and preach in different churches, I see a difference in the preachers I meet. Of course, every one of us is different, and I will quickly admit that there is no single mold for preachers.
I have met short ones, tall ones, skinny ones and fat ones, ones with hair, and some that are bald. A few are rather handsome, but many aren’t. Some can sing, but others can’t. Some play guitar or piano, and many can’t. Some are very outgoing, but some are introverts. Some have the privilege of a formal Bible education, and many do not.
Some of the ones I’ve met through the years, it was clear that people around them knew they were preachers. I don’t mean that they knew the man filled a position or had a title. There was no doubt that the hand of God was on them and their ministry. Others, sad to say, it was obvious that they not only did not fit the mold, but they were like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. They just did not fit the position. I have met a number of preachers of this type, and I have doubted the call of God in their life.
Somehow, some of these men took a position that God did not put them in. They felt called, but it may not have been God Who called them. Perhaps mama or papa wanted them to be preachers, and they obeyed – but that does not make a man a preacher! Only God makes a man a preacher or pastor!
To preachers who may be reading this, let me say that if there is a doubt about it in your mind, get before God and stay there until He either tells you that you are called, or find out that you aren’t! Don’t guess.
In my own heart, I know that God has called me, but I also realize very well that the calling of other men could easily be a little different than my own calling. So then, the question becomes:
“How Do You Know If You Are Called or Not?”
One very important aspect of the call of God, as I hear from many preachers’ testimonies, is that there was a very strong burden in their heart that that was what God wanted them to do. For them (and me), there was no escaping the knowledge that God had laid His hand on them and put a conviction down deep in their soul that they must preach!
Some of them tried to run from it, and a few did this for a while – but the conviction never left them. One day, for those who ran from it, God put a stop to their running, and they soon came face to face before God in their hearts – and yielded to the work of the Spirit there.
This deep burden to preach never leaves. Like Paul said in I Corinthians 9:16: “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” Some put it like this: “If you can do something else by way of a career – do it!” A God-called man must preach – there is no alternative. If they must be bi-vocational, as many are, the preaching always comes first.
There is also a power present when a God-called preacher of God preaches the Word that is not there when a non-God-called preacher presents the Word. I do recognize that there are many laymen that God has also called to preach – but not necessarily to pastor – that is another calling.
Let me make a clear distinction here. Some men, even unsaved ones, can move people emotionally or intellectually when they speak, but it will not have the evident power of the Spirit on their message – which is different, and discerning people can tell the difference.
Personally, I am strongly of the opinion that someone should not determine to be a preacher. God needs to call men to the ministry. We are told in Matthew 9:36,37 that God will send forth laborers for the harvest as we pray for them to be sent. Then, we see an example of this in Acts 13:2,3: “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
It is also important to see that others heard the Lord speaking about God’s work for these men and they obeyed. God moved to send them as they “fasted and prayed.” The people of the church hungered for God, His will, and His power. If you sense God may be moving you to preach, seek to draw very close, listen to Him, but don’t impress your will upon His. He is quite capable of letting you know His will – when He is ready – and when you are, too.
Sometimes an encouragement to preach comes through the pastor in your church. God may lead him to let you preach on occasion. If so, you can be sure that the pastor will also check on the results; possibly trying to determine if you are called or not.
God Always Called Men One at A Time and Personally
Consider this brief outline as to how God called Moses in Exodus chapters 3 and 4 at the burning bush:
I. God Gets His Attention First
Ex. 3:4 “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.”
II. God Reveals Himself
Ex. 3:5,6 “And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”
III. God Reveals His Burden and Call
Ex. 3:7 “And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.”
IV. God Reveals His Willingness to Work with the One Called
Ex. 3:12 “And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.”
V. God Empowers for the Task
Ex. 4:1,2,5 “And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. (2) And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. (5) That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.”
Some Tips When Waiting to Determine His Will About Preaching
- Do Not Look for Signs – Look for God to speak to your heart as you read His Word. Remember what God taught Elijah in I Kings 19:12: “And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
- Walk Close to God and Be Much in Prayer – The only ones who have His leading are those who walk close to Him.
- Be Faithful to God Now and to the Local Church – Do all as unto the Lord, and do your best.
- Use Your Known Gifts – In the Bible, those whom God called were busy; doing what they could.
- Study the Word! – God speaks to us through His Word. Be in it much and “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). You can’t teach what you do not know. A call to service means preparation for it!
- Let God Elevate You – This means do not take shortcuts to get a pastorate, or rush it. Learn to teach and preach from others, and be sure to develop a godly character (I Timothy 3). Let God open the door and He will put you into it when He is ready.
- Follow God-given Opportunities – God does control circumstances, but be in prayer over them. Don’t fail to take up opportunities to preach when given them, and then pray and study much for it!
- Others Will Testify of Your Gifts – Don’t listen to just one or two people telling you that you can preach (your parents and friends), but get the general consensus of the people who hear you. When I was in the military, I taught some Bible studies and witnessed often. Everyone around me was calling me preacher – before I even knew I was called!
In closing, a man needs to know he is called by God when he sets his course to fulfill this godly position. In that office, testings will come, and one of the best anchors to have is to be certain that God called you, and that He will deliver and keep you.
Evangelist Mike Valles
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