Explain what it means to be called
What does it mean to be called? Being called is a natural occurrence, the difference being who is calling and for what purpose. I remember when I was young my sisters and I liked playing in the bushes near our home and when our mother called our names we knew it was either she wanted to send us somewhere or she wanted us to go and have a meal. The call for a meal was one which we never pretended not to hear unlike others. When someone calls your name, they expect you to answer and the person being called expects to be informed about why they are being called.
Rick Warren in his book What on Earth am I here for? says the call to salvation includes a call to service. He says regardless of the job or career you are in, you are called for fulltime Christian service. He says one of God’s assignment for us is that we are called to save him. In 2 Timothy 1:9, it says “He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” Whatever we do, we do it to glorify God and fulfill his purpose. A career one undertakes is a calling, no wonder some careers are also called vocations like nursing or being a doctor. There are good examples of people who were neither priests nor preachers but who saved a calling to help those in need. Florence Nightingale who treated soldiers during the first world war and Mother Teresa who left Ireland to live and work among the poor people who lived in the slums of India. Their calling was to help people and not to preach.
As church members, we are called for different vocations within our churches. Some are called for a ministry with children, worship leading or even preaching. People use their time to help others. The Bible has good examples of people who were called by God to do a variety of things to further his kingdom. 1 Samuel 3: 1-21 discusses how a young man Samuel who lived in a temple with his mentor Eli was called by God. Samuel thought it was his mentor calling him and he ran to him more than once. His mentor then realized it was a calling from God and informed Samuel to answer and say to God that he was listening and asked him to say what he wanted of him. The Lord then gave Samuel the message. The prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 6:8 that he heard the voice of the Lord saying “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” and he answered and asked the Lord to send him. It is not as easy for others to hear God’s voice and recognize it just as we have heard of Samuel or to just accept the calling like Isaiah did. Moses was called by God to go and talk to Pharaoh but he gave God excuses that he was not eloquent and was slow of speech and tongue. God had to remind him that it is God who gives man his speech, who give him sight or hearing and reassured Moses that he would be with his mouth and teach him what to say to Pharoah.
We see in the New Testament, Jesus calling people from different walks of life to follow him and be his disciples. These men left their jobs, families careers and followed Jesus to work in ministry. It shows that Jesus called any one like me and you to save. Peter a fisherman was called and he became the rock of Christ’s church. Even Judas Iscariot who later betrayed Jesus was called to be one of the twelve. Everyone has a purpose but the hard job is identifying that calling and doing it to the best of your knowledge.
I grew up in a Pentecostal church and we were taught how to preach from an early age. As I grew older and got married I moved away from home and thus joined a different church. Because of how things were done in my new church I stopped preaching but sometimes when I heard someone preaching I would feel that I could have given the message in a different way which I hoped will bring more understanding to people. Last year after so much meditation and soul searching I felt it was now the right time to accept my calling to spread the good news of His kingdom. Hence here I am completing this preachers course. The first day I stood in front of the congregation it was as if I never stopped it felt so right and I felt I am where God wants me to be.
I talked to two local preachers about how their calling. One informed me that he grew up in church and is 4th generation Methodist Christian and it was his uncles who really inspired him to start the journey into being a preacher. He says his mother always made sure he went to church and he would sit and listen to the sermon and think he would have done better than the preacher. He says it took him years to finally realise that he had a calling to be a preacher. He says a former minister at Norton Methodist church talked to him about becoming a local preacher and he thought about it. But it took him seven years to do something about it. He says it was spurred on by a weekend at the church and after that he felt he was ready. In 1991 he approached the minister and was put on note from 1992. In 1995 he was then accredited as a local preacher. The transcript of the interview with Les is included. He gave his permission to use his name in the story. Les says what helps him is a book of daily devotions he has been reading since 1992.
The other preacher I talked to says he started training as Methodist local preacher at the age of 19. He says before this he had always accompanied his father who was also a local preacher when he went to different churches. However he really wasn’t sure whether that was for him. It all changed when he went to university. When he was at university some students were housed at the Methodist college in Bristol and he found himself being ne of those. This gave him an opportunity to interact and talk to ministers in training at the college. Through discussions he found himself drawn to being a preacher but was also determined to complete his college degree. He spent a lot of time in his first year soul searching whether his desire to be a local preacher was because he had grown up with a father who was a local preacher and also his maternal granddad who was very involved in the church. So he decided to talk to one of the leaders of the teaching staff about it. He encouraged him to start the training if he really felt called.
He started the local preacher training parallel to his university degree and this was not easy. He says he took a long time being on trial because after he completed his engineering degree he moved a lot on the job and this made it hard for him to do his trial preaching duties and his assignments. However he got a job in London two years after and he was determined to complete his preaching studies as well as get accredited. He says he has been a local preacher for 50 years and still feels he has a lot to give and share with God’s people.
- Warren, R. (2002). What on Earth Am I Here For? Zondervan, Michigan
Les Gilburt for giving me an interview about his calling and allowing me to use his name.