We have all heard about it. Just about every person who works in the professional ministry or mission field has referred to the ‘call’ they got from God to enter that type of work. The only problem I have with ‘the call’ is when men and women use it as an excuse to disobey God’s word. God does not call people to violate his instructions to the church nor doe she call them to alter his words to allow such disobedience.
In Genesis 12 we see an example of ‘the call’ and it reads:
Now the Lord said to Abram,
“[a]Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so [b]you shall be a blessing;
3 And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who [c]curses you I will [d]curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (NASB)
This isn’t the first example of ‘the Call’ from God to one of his righteous people. In Chapter 6 verse 13 we read the following:
Then God said to Noah,
There are some interesting details about both Abraham’s and Noah’s response to their call from God. First, they were not surprised that God spoke to them. They were righteous men and walked in the ways of God thus they probably had previous experience with talking with God directly. Second,you will notice that neither of these men were traumatized by God’s approach, they did not form a committee to analyze the words to see if they really were of God– they knew who was speaking to them which means that these men could recognize God’s voice without too much trouble.
Third is their response. Here is what both men did upon hearing God’s words:
Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. (6:20)
So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; (12:4)
There was no hemming and hawing, no fanfare, no questioning God’s instructions. They simply obeyed the voice of God. Too often too many well-meaning Christians can interfere with the call of God to certain people. These people do not ‘measure up’ in those Christians eyes and they do every they can to dissuade the called to obey God’s instructions and it is a dangerous thing to do though we do need to make sure that the words were actually from God and once they are determined to be so, all believers should do what they can to support that person new objective in life.
I remember many of my fellow classmates who were disappointed when the denomination’s filtering ministry workers committee (my name for it) turned them and their ‘call’ down for work in the denomination. They spent 4 years at the institution, studying to be prepared and ready to fulfill their call only to be turned down right before graduation. It is not a good experience to have to endure.
For me, I would like to have abolished that committee and have the professors work with the students who claim such a call and make determinations of the validity of such messages long before the student reaches their 4th year. Contrary to what the old saying says, a leopard cannot change its spots, God can and does change people. Those receiving their call to serve God may not be in God’s perfected form yet and will look like bumbling idiots or whatever while God is in the process of changing them.
Rejecting these people tells God that we do not trust his judgment and that we are unwilling to work with them to get them ready for what God wants them to do. It also says that current leadership does not trust God to send the right people to the churches and that God must meet their standards instead of rolling up their sleeves and helping the ministerial candidate become ready. I have seen great favoritism at the one institution I attended for 4 years and that attitude sends a wrong message to the students studying within those boundaries.
To be fair, I did hear some years later that the faculty of that school questioned their right to judge who was called or not to the ministry but I never did hear if it went further than that initial questioning. Suffice it to say that when people claim they have a call, we need to make sure that the call is in line with biblical instructions and if it isn’t then we see what alternative purpose God has for them or we question the source of the call itself.
And yes, I am referring to those women who claim to have received a call to ministry. Women are greatly needed on the mission field in order to instruct women of their spiritual duties, including how to teach the younger women to respect their husbands, and live biblically correct BUT if that supposed call tells the women to disobey God’s instructions, we do not alter the biblical texts or church to accommodate those calls but become strong and disappoint those women.
Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran
We really need to be careful when someone not of the christian socially accepted age is called to the ministry. I have heard over the years of little boys preaching in churches and I see no where in the Bible that young boys cannot be given spiritual gifts but there are instructions on how, when and where they can exercise those gifts and instead of thrusting the boy out into the limelight for whatever reason one may have, we make sure the person is guided, taught and trained correctly, wisely and so on. If the boy has a gift of preaching then he needs to obtain understanding, and knowledge before moving too soon into preaching.
Having gifts to do specific spiritual tasks does not exclude those people from obeying other scriptures like those found at the following link:
To be a good spiritual worker one must develop those qualities that God wants in all of his followers and we would be doing a disservice to gifted people if we prioritize their exercise of their gift over other instructions of God. Gifted people need to obey the commandments, they need to obey Jesus’ instruction and believe the Bible or they are just wasting their gift and hurting people.
Generally, in the denomination I grew up in, most churches do not allow young kids to speak and wait till they are about 22 or older before letting them take on the responsibilities that come with overseeing a church congregation. My years in education have taught me that having them wait till they have gained some life experience outside of living at home or in college dorms, learning how to pay bills, learn what real jobs demand and getting their wildness out of their system is far better than thrusting wet behind the years 20 somethings into the pulpit or mission field.
Serving God is serious business and not a game thus we should season our called people so that they will be ready to meet what life throws at them without questioning their faith and stumbling along dragging their congregations with them. Of course, there would always be exceptions to this practice but one thing I noticed teaching here is that the young are just not ready to teach. They have too many adventures, pursuits, desires to follow and just do not settle down enough to truly in command of a classroom.
Also, these young people just do not know enough to be in charge of churches and by ‘know enough’ I am talking about being educated where they have more information than the party line to draw upon. Preachers, missionaries, teachers need to be able to answer questions correctly with the right words and not say ‘I don’t know’ all the time or rattle off some practiced rhetoric that doesn’t come close to satisfying the needs of the questioner. I should mention that I do not include knowing the original languages in that term’s use.
The pastor, missionary or teacher should be versed in how to follow the HS to the truth more than they should be in the original languages. They should be more aware and respectful of the passages concerning false teaching and teachers than they are of the correct Greek or Hebrew grammatical points for those same passages.
The call is not a joke but a beckoning to God’s serious business and if we cannot do what Abraham or Noah did, obeying without challenging, then we need to check to see what needs changing in us before we continue following that call.
and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. (V.8)
Notice the last few words. That is what our preachers,missionaries and teachers need to do and give the utmost priority to. Instead of calling on the subjective opinions of others, they need to call upon the name of the Lord first. Doesn’t matter if it is a time of rejoicing or to solve a perplexing problem. God should be the first one they talk to then let him guide them to the right solution or whatever.
The call needs to be treated seriously and if a person, who doesn’t meet our visual or experiential standards for ministry, claims to have been called of God then we need to deal with that claim as honestly, wisely, compassionately as we do with those who do meet those earthly ideals. God calls people who will fit his plans not ours thus we must be careful not to discourage, reject, or hinder those we do not like that God has chosen for his work. Again, this does not infer that we blindly accept any and all who make this claim. We still have to check their doctrine, their beliefs, their fruit and so on to make sure they are of God and actually hearing his voice.
The call is real, we just have to handle it correctly.