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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

You Know You’re Called to Preach If…


You Know You’re Called to Preach If…
Determining whether or not God is calling you to pastoral ministry is hard enough, but discerning a call to the specific ministry of preaching is extremely challenging. The call from God to preach is, in most cases, an invitation enveloped in mystery. Is there a way for the potentially called preacher to know intuitively, if not definitively, whether she/he is called to preach? I think so.
 
Albert Outler, Wesleyan historian and theologian, observed that John Wesley developed his theology and processed ministry decisions through four lenses: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. Outler labeled this grid the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

SCRIPTURE
What role has God’s word played in your contemplation of the call to preach? Are there key Bible passages that resonate deeply with you, pointing you toward the call? One of the Bible passages that impacted my call to preach is Leviticus 26:13 which reads, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” Through this verse, God was cultivating in me a passionate desire to partner with him in breaking the bars and lifting the heads of the human race through the power of Christian preaching.

TRADITION
How does your Christian tradition (i.e., local church, denomination) view the call to preach and the role preaching plays within the life of a congregation? What is more, do the leaders of your local church and denomination sense and support your call to preach? One of the ways the call to preach was sparked in me was through the pastor and people of my local church. They affirmed my gifts and asked me questions that initiated my wrestling with the call to preach. Are there people with the gift of wisdom and discernment in your Christian community who see in you the potential to preach the Gospel? 

REASON
A call from God inviting a human to speak words that describe the will and the way of God is too odd to be reasonable from a human standpoint. It does seem sensible, however, for the potentially called person to reflect upon how their natural abilities and acquired skills might reinforce the call to preach. What abilities and skills make your call, or potential call, seem reasonable? Remember, of course, that God does not always or even often do what is reasonable to us.

EXPERIENCE
What experiences in your life have shaped you for preaching the Gospel? What challenges, disappointments, failures, accomplishments, and relationships have you encountered in life that might help you discern whether or not you are called to preach? One of the life experiences that assisted me in discerning the call to preach was that I was not raised in the church. The experience of being an unchurched, nominally religious person has given me perspective on how to connect with the same kind of people through my preaching. What life experiences point you toward and prepare you for the call to preach? 

CONCLUSION
There have been several occasions, due to fatigue or frustration, when I have wanted to quit preaching. The conviction that I am called by God to preach is often the one thing, the only thing, that gives me the audacity to keep opening my mouth in hopes that the Holy Spirit will fill it with words worth speaking. The call from God to preach not only gives the preacher audacity, but the anointing, authority, and authenticity so desperately needed for preaching today.

EXERCISES

1. All Christians have a testimony but those called to preach also have a call-imony. Spend a few minutes reflecting upon your call to preach and write your call-imony using the outline of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.

2. If you are still trying to discern whether or not you are called to preach, consult God. Prayerfully articulate to God where you are in the journey of discerning whether you are called to preach. Then, “listen” for any impressions God might give you from Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. 

3. Consult a mentor or two who can help you explore the call to preach. Schedule some time with a preacher you respect or a lay person with the gift of wisdom. Share some notes from your call-imony and invite them to speak into your life regarding the vocation of preaching.

1 comment:

Ozalle Toms said...

I believe that I have been called to preach