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2 thoughts on “Is God Calling You to Be a Pastor?”

  1. Andrew Faris says:

    Aren’t there a couple semi-obvious biblical swings and misses here?

    For one, it seems like a huge stretch to say that “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer” is a “call to ministry” verse. An “aspiration” is fundamentally different than a “call”, because the former word indicates an experience that starts with the prospective pastor, whereas the latter indicates an experience that comes from God and is addressed to the prospective pastor. That’s what we mean when we talk about a “call”, so to equate the two is just confusing.

    If we eliminate that, then do we find any “call to ministry” verse in 1 Timothy or Titus? If not, shouldn’t that weigh more heavily on our thinking on this when each book has Paul going to great length to tell Timothy and Titus how to pick pastors? If a “call to ministry” is important for picking a pastor, then surely he would include that in one of the lists.

    Certainly some people (like Paul) have subjective calls to ministry, and those should be recognized. The example of Billy Graham that Harvey gives is fitting. But it is a huge leap to say that all (or even most) men ought to experience this before going into ministry.

    Second, it seems to me that “able to teach” has much less to do with rhetorical skill than with doctrinal knowledge. That is how Titus 1:9 bears it out: he “holds firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” The emphasis there is all on the “holding firm” part, not on the ability to preach a compelling sermon. There is just nothing there about rhetorical ability or “gifting” to teach (which, in my view, stems from a bad theology of spiritual gifts- cf. Ken Berding’s What Are Spiritual Gifts?).

    Part of the reason I’m concerned about this is because it seems like too many pastors distance themselves from regular people and make their own ministries sacrosanct by relying on things like a supposed call to ministry or a spiritual gift of teaching/preaching. When we see these as central it is only natural to pump ourselves up and consider our own ministries nearly unimpeachable.

    Obviously that is an unintended consequence and not at all Harvey’s point. I appreciate that he does note that character is the key emphasis of these passages. But still, it’s important that we keep stuff like this straight, in my view.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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