I was reminded again today that...

  • God does NOT call pastors.
  • Churches call pastors.

If a church does not call you to be a pastor, you are not called to be a pastor. You may "desire" (1Tim 3.1) to be a pastor; you may be qualified to be a pastor (1Tim 3; Titus 1); you may be prepared and ready to be a pastor (1Tim 4); but until a church calls you... you are not called to be a pastor.

 Tom Chantry made a few comments. His first and second are very insightful: 

Chantry's First Comment

I Timothy 3:1 says that a man's desire to be a bishop is a prerequisite for the office. In other words, no one can be compelled into office.

That's not insignificant. There are far too many men in Bible schools, seminaries, and pulpits who are where they are because someone told them that really good Christians become preachers (and great ones go on the mission field). But fundamental to anyone's entrance into the pastorate is an aspiration which is, well, internal.

Now God, who is sovereign, works through all sorts of aspirations which we may have, and providentially arranges His people using their aspirations and desires - along with many other factors - all without the least bit of mysticism, special revelation, whispered voices, etc. I think that once upon a time theologians called this desire, which is used by God to start the process of calling, as the "internal call." 

Today that language has become very problematic, for all the reasons Dan alluded to. It becomes like the guy who tells the girl she must marry him because God told him so. How do you decline a pastor if he thinks that his internal desire is a special revelation? 

But the "call" to the ministry is largely an external thing. That is why so little time is spent in the Pastorals speaking to men who want to be elders and so much is spent talking to everyone else, who have to decide whether or not to let those aspirations come true. 

The church calls its pastors, and God in the Bible tells them the basis on which to issue that call. If you want to call it the call of God that's fine, provided that you understand it as nothing more than Christ giving his church a pastor, which is biblical language (Ephesians 4:11). 

I tell young men with aspirations, "I have no idea whether you are called or not, and neither do you. Prepare yourself with humility and confidence in God, and someday if a church says to you, 'You - be our pastor,' then on that day I'll agree that you're called."

Chantry's Second Comment

A number of you have quite rightly pointed to the wreckage which can be caused when a man in the ministry uses his "calling" as an excuse for all sorts of misconduct. However, there is another pile of wreckage on this highway, and it is the spiritual damage done to men who believe they have the call but who never find a church to agree with them.

Scripture says that elders are to appoint elders, and also that churches are to select their own officers. Nowhere do we read of a man ordaining himself to ministry. So we understand (sort of) that in order for anyone to become a pastor there must be people willing to have him. We ought to understand that there must be other pastors/elders willing to approve him. 

If a man merely wants to be a pastor, but his elders say, "We don't think so," or if no church will call him, then he ought to humbly say, "God's will be done." I don't mean to be trite; it's not easy, but that's what he has to do.

If, however, he is convinced that God has called him, what is he to think? It's not God's will that he has no church! His elders and all those people who wouldn't confirm his call are simply ignoring God! 

Too many men have become disillusioned and distant from the church because they cannot reconcile God's providence with what they were falsely told was God's calling. These are the tragic consequences of poorly-thought-through theology.

Categoría: Ministry