How Can I Know If I’m Called to Ministry?

I wonder if I’m called to ministry. How can I know for sure?

In one sense we are all called to ministry—all Christians are gifted by the Holy Spirit for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7). Some church bulletins say “Ministers: All the Members,” indicating that calling we all share. But how do you know if you are called vocationally to be an ordained minister? Well, there are two ways—and they need to go hand in hand.

On the one hand, you will sense the Holy Spirit’s nudging inside your heart and soul. That “wondering” you have might be a sign of the Spirit’s nudging! You might find yourself extraordinarily interested in the Bible. You might listen to sermons and imagine how you might preach those passages. Or you might find yourself drawn to church ministries that become a priority in your life.

On the other hand, you might find the church is interested in you! Church leaders ask for your help, or you volunteer and find yourself easily moving into leadership roles. An elder or teacher might say to you, “You should consider ministry; I can see how God could use your gifts.” They might see things in you that you hadn’t noticed yourself.

These two things that go hand in hand are often called the “inner” and “outer” calls, or the calls “from above” and “from below.” The inner call from above is that nudging of the Holy Spirit in your own heart and soul. The outer call from below is confirmation by the church that you are gifted in ways God will use to equip God’s people for service and to build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). The best way to find out if you are called is to get involved in ministry and see if God’s call and the call of the church grow in you and are confirmed.

But the inner and outer callings are not just for ministers. It also applies to elders, deacons, and commissioned pastors—all the officebearers of the church. Each one will experience that hand-in-hand calling and respond with gratitude, ready to serve the church of Jesus Christ.

About the Author

Kathy Smith is senior associate director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and an adjunct professor at Calvin Theological Seminary and Calvin University. She is a member of First CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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