Called to Preach?
Every believer should be involved in fulfilling the Great Commission. However, only a small percentage of Christians are called to an office of the fivefold ministry (one pastor I know believes it’s about 3%). God also needs people in the marketplace to be a witness and help fund the end-time harvest.
Evangelist Stephen Hill often said, “You know you are called to full-time ministry when secular employment is undesirable.” If you perceive God is calling you, then there will likely come a time when He instructs you to step out in faith and leave your job or business. That thought may sound a little scary at first. But if it’s God’s timing, He will make sure your needs are met as long as you follow His instructions. Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”
The transition into ministry and the preparation time involved varies with each individual. Sometimes God calls His people to step out quickly and completely. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus told four fishermen, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Peter didn’t say, “Lord, let me build up a savings account first.” He totally trusted Jesus as his Source.
Then there are ministers who remain in a particular trade on a part-time or temporary basis. The Apostle Paul would fit this category since he supplemented his income by making tents (Acts 18:3). However, he also wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:14 (NIV), “...the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” People called to the fivefold ministry need to spend extra time in prayer and Bible study (Acts 6:1-4). Still, Paul opted to be an occasional tentmaker because he didn’t want to be a financial burden to the churches that supported him. More contemporary ministers such as Carlos Annacondia and the recently-deceased Norvel Hayes continued operating successful businesses while on the road preaching.
As for myself, God called me to be a missionary/evangelist after being a Christian for almost five years. It wasn’t something I sought for but a revelation received. After choosing to answer the call, the Lord led me to work at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Although I made a good income there, God didn’t allow me to stay comfortable too long. A few months after starting at BGEA, I resigned because the Lord wanted me to attend revival meetings in Toronto and my supervisor wouldn’t give me the time off. Coworkers plus elders from my church questioned my decision to leave a “stable job.” Instead of following their opinions, I obeyed the Lord. As a result, my faith was stretched by living in Toronto for a season where I learned to rely on Him to meet my needs.
One of my biggest challenges on the mission field was experiencing persecution from other Christians. Some of them pestered me to “get a real job” even though God was taking care of me. Ironically, many of those Christians who told me “you don’t work, you don’t eat” didn’t have jobs themselves! They were either retired, widowed, collected disability, or in another kind of situation that didn’t require them to find employment. Occasionally, God has brought work to me through Christians wanting websites, videos and other media projects created for them. Whenever I tried initiating work in this area, my efforts weren’t fruitful. Full-time ministers need to look to God as their Provider and not make things happen by the arm of the flesh.
So again if you’re perceiving a call to preach, I encourage you to seek Him for direction and step out when He tells you to. True fulfillment comes from following His plan for our lives.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” - Jeremiah 1:5