I hear Christians use the word "calling" everywhere. Are you called to this, to do that, to do_______________(you fill in the blank)? People even use the term in reference to secular work right alongside ministry. In fact, the word has become so overused in the vocabulary of Christians that it has lost its special spiritual significance. At the same time, many people do not have a clear understanding of its meaning.
There is a danger in treating the concept of calling on a level with other words. It is possible to go into a ministry based on a FEELING that one is called, without being truly called. Why? Because, a calling is not based on a feeling. Someone said on a radio program recently that if a person is trying to decide between going into the ministry and a secular occupation, then take the secular job. The fact that one does not know if he or she is called is reason enough NOT to go into a ministry. A person may have a passion to do something, whether it is a secular job or a ministry, but passion is not the same as a spiritual calling of God. Passion, though, is one characteristic of a spiritual calling.
Calling has a special spiritual significance that is not to be taken lightly. It is a very serious matter in God's view. Anyone considering ministry must know beyond any doubt that he or she is called. I have several articles posted on faithwriters that help people identify a true calling. Suffice it to say, the concept of calling refers to being chosen by God to use one's gifts in a specific way, in a specific ministry. GOD does the choosing. That is why it is not good to toss the word around like any other word in religious jargon.
Here are some examples of calling:
* Planting a church in a particular city.
* Assuming a pastorate at a local church.
* Having a speaking ministry at the local mission, or a writing ministry that God is using in specific ways in the lives of individual people around the world.
* Doing missionary work with a particular type of people.
* Starting a ministry organization to help meet the needs of a particular group of people.
Here are some of examples of things that may NOT be a call:
* Teaching a Sunday school class. Why? If it is being done because there is no one else to do it, that is not a call.
* Volunteering to help in Vacation Bible School. Just because one is interested in doing it, or because they need workers, does not make it a call.
* How about a pastor taking a pastorate at a larger church that pays more money? Is he doing it because he has a CONFIRMED calling to do so, or because it pays a bigger salary?
I have heard people get up in front of congregations and put out a plea for people who FEEL called to do everything under the sun. If it is based on nothing more than a feeling it is not a call. Simply call it a desire or a willingness to do something. What kind of feeling do people have, an emotional high, or what? Feelings cannot be trusted.
The only kind of "feeling" a person may have is a restlessness of NOT doing something, or a sense of urgency TO do something, but it still goes way beyond that. When God calls a person to do something it will also be confirmed by him in one or more of several ways and taking action.
* You will take steps of faith.
* God will cause circumstances to come together.
* There will be open doors of opportunity.
* It will often be used in conjunction with a person's spiritual gift. It is helpful to know one's spiritual gift in order to recognize a calling.
* Other people will recognize that you have a gift and calling in this area.
* God will put your ministry to use in the lives of others.
Let's see what the Bible has to say about this, by looking at the Hebrew and Greek meaning of the word "calling." The Greek word is "kletos." The idea is one of being invited or appointed according to God's purpose in reference to ministry or salvation. As stated earlier, a call starts with GOD doing the choosing. In this article, I am associating the word only with the ministry part. All Christians have been called to salvation and obedience to biblical teaching.
The Hebrew translation is likened to calling someone by name or on the phone. In doing research on the internet I came across 2 Hebrew words, "likro," and "lehit'ka'sher." One web page gave this analysis: One, to summon or request the attention of; two, to name or speak into existence; three, it's synonymous with salvation; four, called to various roles, responsibilities, lifestyles, places, or positions.
To say that one feels called is not biblical, yet how many Christians may be doing something in which they have not been called or equipped because they based it on some sort of feeling? It would not at all be too spiritual to tell someone, "God has confirmed that he has chosen me to do this job or ministry." It has been God's intent all along for calling to be a very personal and sacred matter, but too often, it has been turned into a general and casual part of conversation and involvement.