And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Acts 9: 5-6
But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. Gal 1:15-16.
The Webster Bible dictionary defines calling as “a vocation; profession; trade; usual occupation, a Divine summons, vocation, or invitation, or employment”. While it defines ministry as “the office, duties or functions of a subordinate agent of any kind, Agency; service; aid; interposition; instrumentality, also employment”.
When you look closely at these definitions you will see that ministry in the Biblical sense is simply working for God. It is being in God’s service or employment. It is obeying God and carrying out His commandments.
The Diversity of God’s Call
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Cor 12:4-6
Going through the Bible you will see that you don’t have to go to a theological school or be formally ordained by men to be in ministry. God has called and sent different kinds of people to the ministry. He called the young and the old, both male and female. He has used farmers, fishermen, carpenters, tax collectors, tentmakers, ordinary shepherd boys, and even housewives. He demanded that others should leave whatsoever they were doing to do what He asked them to do. For some others He allowed them to continue what they were doing before.
He called some to carry out simple tasks and others to discharge and undertake long term projects or duties and responsibilities. Some were called to occupy leadership and prominent positions, while some were called to simply support and serve almost in obscurity. He determines the timing, nature, administration, giftings, scope, and direction of His work. God’s work is highly planned and is usually according to a well-structured heavenly pattern or pre-defined purpose. It is not sporadic or chaotic. God is not the author of confusion.
God calls as He wills and directs the work as He pleases. He uses different ways to communicate His will and purpose to the people He calls. He spoke to some very clearly and audibly; to others through Angels; to some others through Prophets; others still through visions and dreams; while to some others by laying a burden on their hearts for a thing to be done. For some it was through leaders, their parents or ‘Disciplers’; while for some He simply led them through orchestrated circumstances and situations. For a great majority, it was simply as they read His inspired written word. Therefore, there is really no one-size-fits-all method or formula for discovery of one’s calling and ministry and for doing God’s work.
How God Calls
God is a living being and He communicates His will and purpose to whosoever He wants to recruit into His service. Even when He announces a vacancy, He takes time to recruit, mobilize, train, commission and send men to His very highly organized work.
So, in discovering or knowing your call or ministry, one thing becomes imperative: ‘Hearing the voice of God’. You must be sure there is clear communication from God to you. In other words, the only way to know God’s calling and ministry for your life is to receive it from God! Whichever way He speaks notwithstanding, you just must be certain it is God.
Hearing the Call of God
You may want to ask: “How do I know that it is God speaking to me today?” The Bible says that
“On many past occasions and in many different ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe”.
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. I Cor 2:9-10
What this means is that today you need a relationship with Jesus the Son of God and the express speaking of the Holy Spirit to be able to hear God or know His will (Calling and Ministry) for your life. It is when you believe in the Son of God and you receive forgiveness and a new life that you have the capacity and privilege of being able to hear God and do His service.
You do not serve a God you do not know. A functional and personal relationship with God is the first step to Christian service. Don’t be like the seven Sons of Sceva, a Jewish Chief Priest who attempted to do service (Cast out demons) for God without knowing Him. Their end was a disaster. Acts 19:13-16.
Ministry today can only be done by disciples of the Lord Jesus, people who know Christ, who have trusted in Him and have surrendered their lives to follow Him and do His will. For such people, Christ gives them His Holy Spirit to walk with them, to lead them into what He wants them to do specifically. He places them in His Church and in the hands of His trusted disciples to train and prepare them for what He will have them do. It is by following (continually in fellowship and communion) His Holy Spirit and the written Word they get to know and discover their calling and Ministry.
You cannot be presumptuous about God’s calling. You cannot discover it by merely introspecting –looking within to your talents or natural gifts – as many allude. Whereas God may choose to use whatever natural abilities he created you with, those abilities in themselves should not be the determinant for whether you have received a call from God or not. A man cannot and should not recruit and call you into God’s employment. Everyone must be personally recruited and mobilized by Christ! Again, whereas the Church in the exercise of its God -given authority can assign you to certain tasks, you must receive a personal communication from God. And like we said, it begins when you yield and offer your life to Christ.
Saul, who later became Apostle Paul encountered Christ on His way to Damascus (He thought he was doing God’s work already, not knowing he was fighting against God) and he knew immediately that he was wrong. He asked two important questions. The first question he asked was “Who are you, Lord?” and the second question was “Lord what will you have me do?” The revelation of Jesus as Lord and Savior comes first before the revelation of the details of the ministry. God answered Saul and later we see him clearly describing the details of His calling and Ministry to the Gentiles.
Dear friend, you need an encounter with Jesus if you are to know His will (Calling and Ministry) for your life. Your encounter with Jesus may not be like that of Saul, but however, it comes Jesus must be revealed to your heart. When the eyes of your heart are opened to see Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and you become captured and captivated by Christ, then you will pray ‘Lord, what will you have me do’?
How to Confirm the Call of God on Your Life
The answer to this question may come immediately, or it may come gradually over time. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t venture out to do anything without hearing specifically from Christ. Be patient to receive specific details and further instructions. Pray to Him, confirm the leading and instructions you have received, prayerfully work out the details about your calling and ministry. Get to know the nature of what is to be done, when it is to be done, with whom it is to be done, how it should be done, and where it is to be done, etc.
Now you might not be sure what he wants you to do, wait and be sure. But while you wait, don’t just sit idle, be involved in a local church. Yield yourself to the guidance and authority of spiritual leadership to be trained and discipled. Yield yourself to the authority of the Church, participate in the activities of the Church while praying to God. Continue in the study and reading of the Bible, witnessing Christ, serving in whichever capacity you are asked to serve, and be involved in worship and fasting (Acts 13:1-5, 6:3-6) until it is clear what God wants you to do specifically for Him in the vineyard.
Once you discover your calling and ministry- what God wants you to do specifically for Him- you should leave every other thing and focus entirely on carrying out that assignment. Like it is stated above, understand the assignment clearly, prepare to obey it, and go immediately to do it according to His leading and direction. Don’t waste time, don’t confer with flesh and blood. The king’s business requires haste. Focus on the task, labour to fulfil it, pray, make full proof of the ministry. Usually, God does not reveal all the details at once. You will have to continue to walk with Him and depend on Him to direct you at every stage of the work. So, don’t receive one instruction and start running, walk with the Holy Spirit and seek guidance from Him all the time.
God bless you!