Feeling “called out” of ministry

Topic / Leadership

Feeling called out of ministryLast week in a conversation with my mentee, he asked, “How do you know if you’re called to ministry?” If we’re all honest, there have been times when each of us has questioned our calling to ministry, particularly during the difficult times. My mentee is not currently in that situation, but the issue of feeling “called out” of ministry is still a difficult one.

When we go into vocational ministry, we often use language like, “God is calling me to serve at this church.” Or, when we leave one ministry position and go to another, we say, “God called me away from that ministry to this new one.” Sometimes we’re clearly over-spiritualizing a situation, sometimes not.

But when we start to question the calling, let’s not confuse those emotions with ones of discouragement or insecurity. For example, if you had a lot of people encouraging and supporting you, would you still feel “called out” of ministry? If you felt affirmed by key people in your ministry, would your calling change?

Remember, our calling into ministry does not come from people, nor should it be retracted by people. It comes solely from the Lord.

If you’re doubting your call to ministry, don’t confuse it with feeling discouraged or insecure. Deep down, we all feel that in ministry.

Affirmation and encouragement are absolutely healthy and necessary things to have in your ministry, but never should we base a calling to ministry on the praise or opinions of others. Base your calling on the Lord’s direction in your life.

Posted on April 1, 2009

  • Tim.

    I am having this same convo with my mentor on friday. good stuff

  • Great post. People need to hear this. I felt a similar "called out" feeling last year about this time. After a lot of prayer, I knew it was not God but the difficult times. I wrote a similar post the other day as I celebrated my one year mark of staying in youth ministry (titled The Day I Almost Walked Away from Youth Ministry).

  • I don't even know how to post a response to this other then to say that it's a very challenging post for anyone serving in ministry paid or not.

  • I'm currently a volunteer who has recently felt the call to finish school and go into this full time. I've been doing this out of love for God and these students since I joined my current church in 2002. I have to be honest, I have never felt so insecure or discouraged in my ministry as I have since I've started towards getting back into classes and learning all that I can about how the ministry is run. But I also keep reminding myself that God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. I also know that He will not take me anywhere where he won't be by my side.

  • Andrew

    I have felt a "calling out" of sorts consistently for over two years now and it has followed me into a new position. I've been at the new church for a little over a month they are a great group of people. They seem pumped and ready for ministry and seem to be the healthiest church I've ever attended, much less worked at. Yet, I (secretly) haven't been able to shake feelings of discouragement and feeling like a square peg in a round hole (vocationally). There have definately been times when I have felt good about what I do and glad that I was there to see transformation happen, but I'm not sure I wouldn't see those things as a lay leader or bivocational leader. I find myself much of the time saying to myself "I'm not sure I can do this anymore, I'm not sure I can go to seminary anymore, and I'm not even sure I want to go to church anymore.". Thanks for your post, I know what I'm feeling in my gut but anybody got any wisdom? Any thoughts?

    • What I'm talking about in the post is mostly a feeling of being "called out" of ministry based on external situations and pressures. Sometimes our feeling "called out" is a reaction to something else, not truly a "calling out" of ministry. But that's not to say some of us really are called out, especially when the feeling is on-going and not dependent on what's going on in our ministry. It can, however, be dependent on a personal spiritual life that's dead. If you're drifting from the Lord on a personal level, you will start to feel apathetic toward Him, His bride the church, and His work, which can also be misinterpreted as a "called out" of ministry.

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