This is probably one of the most confusing and misunderstood concepts that I have personally struggled with for over a decade. However, I believe God has finally granted me more wisdom and understanding on this (after a 10 year wrestling match with Him on the topic).
What does it mean or look like to be “called into the ministry”? I have struggled with this question since 2004. And now, 10 years later, I was challenged by a friend of mine (Sam) about what does that actually mean to be “called”.
In Luke 5, Jesus called His first disciples. When He was walking the Earth, the calling was obvious. Jesus taught them, shocked them with a miracle and then said, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” This was a direct calling from His voice (in the flesh) to their ears, from the one they called “Master”. Now, 2000 years later, I know I can’t see the Master with my own eyes and hear His voice with my own ears. Not as simple as that. However, the calling really IS that simple. The fact is, He calls everyone of His followers to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
The calling is obvious, we’re ALL CALLED! The question of what does that look like for each of us, that is the harder question. However, this again is really answered pretty directly in the scriptures. Paul answers this several times, one of which is in 1 Corinthians 12. God, through the Holy Spirit, has provided each of us certain gifts. Then 1 Peter points out “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 10).
So putting this all together. Every follower of Christ is to “make disciples”. God has given every follower gifts through the Holy Spirit that we are to use to “serve one another”. Yes, it’s that simple. If God gives you a gift, He expect you to use it towards the goal of advancing the gospel, making disciples.
If this is all true, then how does God “call” us today? First He gives us the gift of grace and forgiveness. Then through our acceptance of that gift, He gives us the gift of salvation. Then after that, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then through the Holy Spirit, certain ‘spiritual gifts’, abilities and talents. If you then make it a priority to use those gifts (in some form) to advance the gospel and make disciples, you are answering that call.
What gifts has He given you? Have you found a way to apply those gifts in the advancement of the gospel?