Ministry Calling: Lifestyle of a Christian verses Vocational Calling

In Monday’s post, I mentioned that all Christians are called to be the church by ministering and using their spiritual gifts to build up the church and to share Jesus with the lost.  We must not confuse the call of a Christian to embody the gospel and the call into vocational ministry.  

Today, I want to build an argument from the two tests that we looked at earlier this week getting to what I think is the core of whether the Holy Spirit is leading you into vocational ministry.  Here are the tests once again with comments corresponding to each point:

Daniel Akin’s Five Biblical Tests of the Call to Ministry

  1. Do I meet the qualifications of a preacher set forth in the Word of God?–  A Christian who is living life in light of scripture and seeking to follow Jesus Christ could very well meet the qualifications of a preacher that are presented in scripture.  This question could apply to all Christians who through the power of the Holy Spirit are seeking to live like Jesus, but it must apply to someone who is called into ministry.
  2. Have I the witness of the Spirit in my heart that God has called me? This is a question that would be something that could potentially apply to all Christians if this calling is a calling to use your spiritual gifts in order to build up the church and reach the lost.  The distinctive factor is the confirmation from the Holy Spirit that this ministry should be vocational instead of just using your gifts in the context of your local church body.
  3. Has the gift of the ministry become evident in my life and service? This could also apply to both all Christians and Christians called into vocational ministry.  If you are a Christian seeking to follow Jesus Christ, you will be using your spiritual gifts in your life to reach the lost and in your service to build up your church.
  4. Has my church recognized and confirmed my ministry gift? This is a confirmation that could be seen in all Christians but is especially essential for someone called into ministry.  If your brothers and sisters in Christ do not recognize that you have been gifted the way that you are and called into the ministry that you feel that you have been called into, you must seriously reevaluate and seek God to see if where you feel called is truly where He is calling you.
  5. Has God used my ministry gift to the salvation of souls or the edification of the saints? All Christians have ministry gifts to build up the church and lead people to Jesus.  This could apply to any Christian but is definitely essential for someone called into ministry.  
Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Three Tests of a Call to Ministry
  1. Intense, all absorbing desire for the work. – Would you feel unsatisfied and like you had wasted your life if you do not pursue this ministry that you feel called into?  This is the key distinguishing mark of being called into ministry that sets people called into vocational ministry apart from Christians as a whole.  There is a passion and desire to do the work of God in a full-time ministry capacity that cannot be quenched.
  2. Apt to teach, possess qualities needful of the office of a public minister. – This is something that could apply to all Christians who have the gift of preaching, teaching, or exhortation.  The lifestyle of a minister component could also fit all Christians seeking to follow after Jesus.  These are necessary qualities of ministers.
  3. Must see a measure of conversion work going on under his efforts.- All Christians have ministry gifts to lead people to Jesus.  This could apply to any Christian but is definitely essential for someone called into ministry.  
After looking at both of these lists, we can see that there are many things on this list that all Christians or many Christians could fit in.  The two defining marks of differentiation that would apply specifically to someone called into ministry are:
  • Have I the witness of the Spirit in my heart that God has called me?
  • Intense, all absorbing desire for the work.
The person called into full-time vocational ministry must fit all of the qualifications for a minister laid out in scripture and would do well to reflect on the lists above, but it comes down to has the Holy Spirit led me to a decision to surrender to full-time ministry.  The Spirit makes witness in our hearts and lives by placing within us the desire for ministry that cannot be quenched.  That is the defining mark of someone called into ministry – an unquenchable desire from the Holy Spirit to minister.