December 1, 2022

Testing Your Callings

Is there a good way for a Christian to know if something is a good idea and likely in the will of God? This is a question I ponder frequently, as I strive to live a life within the will of God. I accept my continuing imperfections and periodic missteps (kinda have to as they don't seem to be going away), but I do want to be pleasing to the Lord more often than not, so the bigger the task that I feel that I'm called to, the more certain that I want to be that it is within the will of God.

Some smaller tasks can be evaluated using what I like to call the "Stoneking Test". This is advice given by evangelist Rev. Lee Stoneking, who explained (paraphrasing) that if you're unsure about whether something is from the Lord, if it's good, do it anyway as it's extremely unlikely that the Devil will ask you to do something that positively benefits the kingdom of God. This has always seemed to be a good and pragmatic heuristic for most people, most of the time and I strongly recommend it. After all, the worst that can happen is that you do something good and that's, well, good.

Back to the question of big tasks, the kind that involve uprooting your family or changing churches. These are a bigger deal and deserve a more careful consideration. Just as the small to medium tasks can easily be evaluated with the "Stoneking Test", I propose that the larger callings can be easily analyzed by what I'm going to call the "Pastor Test". The "Pastor Test" is pretty easy, considering the importance of the outcome. You talk to your pastor, explain what you feel the Lord is calling you to do and then wait for their response. If they say that it's awesome and that absolutely you should do it, then the prospective calling has passed the "Pastor Test". If their response is no or "hmmmm, I'm not sure about that", then the prospective calling has failed and you should resume being helpful at your local church.

The problem with the "Pastor Test" is that it is easy for people to think that their pastor is trying to hold them back and prevent them doing the amazing spiritual thing they are convinced they're supposed to do. This is usually an ego thing on the part of the person feeling called. Overcoming our own ego is an important step in our Christian growth journey. Those who seek ministry should desire to minister and grow people. If someone specifically desires the limelight potion of the ministry they claim to be called to, then likely they aren’t ready for it. As a pastor I preach in front of a congregation, but I do it because I want to minister to them and preaching is more efficient than sitting down with them individually. If I could minister without ever having to preach in front of multitudes, I would take that option in a heartbeat. Not that I’m uncomfortable with preaching, but getting behind a pulpit was never my goal and I think that's a significant part of the reason why the Lord felt I was ready to pastor.

The power of the "Pastor Test" is that often the Lord talks to a person's pastor first and tips them off about what he is calling that person to do. For example, my pastor knew that I was being called to start pastoring before I did and I have known things before members of my own congregation heard them from the Lord. If your pastor has not already heard from the Lord about your prospective calling, then there is a good chance that the calling is a well-intentioned miss-understanding. This actually saves everyone's time and prevents future embarrassments.

To recap, the more your pastor tells you that this calling is of the Lord, the more excited you should be about it. John Bevere shares an interesting point from his book "The Bait of Satan", where he talks about a time where he left a ministry without fully discussing it with his pastor and everything did not go as well as he had told himself it would. The Lord checked him and told him that the correct way to leave a ministry had already been explained by Isaiah.

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

We all love the enthusiasm that comes with starting a new and exciting ministry, but unless your leaving causes everyone to be so delighted for you that it overcomes their sadness at seeing you move on, then there is likely something wrong.

Tags: Scripture Concepts