Feeling the call of God on your life to pursue vocational ministry? Have a desire to spread the Good News of the Gospel around the world? Aching to share God’s love with the lost and broken who desperately need His grace and forgiveness?
For those who have been in vocational (professional) ministry for a little while, they know that God beckons them to follow Him using desires deep within. We may liken the call to ministry similar to what Jeremiah described as a fire building up within his bones (Jer. 20:9). It’s a passion for reaching the lost, sharing God’s love, caring for others, and teaching God’s word that drives us even in moments of doubt or struggle. Those of us who try to deny its presence realize quickly that God’s calling will not be quiet or ignored; it demands attention and a response.
Hopefully, if we are surrounded by mature Christians, we respond to the call by pursuing further education and training to prepare us to embrace that call. Yet, after we graduate with our degrees or even in the process of pursuing those degrees, we may struggle with next steps to know how to fulfill that calling in a church, the mission field, school, or other forms of ministry. How does one take the next step from minister-in-training to full-fledged minister?
Regardless of where you are at in the process and how old you are, these steps can help you move towards fulfilling God’s call upon your life in vocational ministry.
Step 1: Get involved in a ministry now, right now.
Often people wait until they are out of school, no longer busy, not working in their part-time or other full-time job, or until they find the “right” position to get involved in ministry. Remember that there will never be an easy time to serve others, never be the “right” or perfect position, and that people will always be in need of the gift that God has given you. Find a local ministry or church right now and get involved. Not only does this give you practice and training, you learn how to serve in whatever capacity is asked of you.
Step 2: Be humble enough to serve without a title, money, or the top position.
Never allow money, position, or title to dictate where you serve in ministry. The life and health of the ministry is more important than salary. The ministry situation that is the best fit for your personality, gifts, and emotional well-being is more important than the position or title itself. The type of person who serves with humility and where God leads will usually not be without a place to serve and minister for very long.
Step 3: Be prepared to be bi-vocational.
This step is tied to the previous step; if you are called to a ministry position that does not pay well but is where you believe God wants you, be prepared to support yourself by working an outside job or raising support. Make sure that you are able to split your time well so that you do not give too much of yourself work and ministry but remember that ministry does not require a forty-hour a week position. Do not allow the glamour of a full-time position to pull you away from the place and position that is actually a better fit for you.
Step 4: Focus on serving and ministering rather than your status.
Ministry is about others. God has called all Christians to serve, but some are called to do it as a vocation. For those called to do it professionally, keep the focus on the main thing, which is to allow God to use you and the gifts and abilities He has give you to serve others. Ministry is not about you; it is about God using you to fulfill the Great Commission. When we make it about our ability, position, title, status, or money, we cheapen the very idea of being a servant of all, the attitude to which Christ calls us all to maintain (Mk. 9:35).
So, what are the steps to get into ministry in a nutshell? Pray, grow, serve, remain humble, and keep your eyes fixed on Christ.