A calling is a hard thing to articulate. It’s extremely personal, hard to describe, hard to explain – but harder still to dismiss.

Photo: floeschie, reused under CC license

And yet it is crucial to be able to do so; because if your calling is to the ministry, you will find people coming to you with a drive to test their own calling. Because you will want to explain to friends what you’re living. Because it will puzzle others. Because, ultimately, it is an awesome thing to share.

But the truth of it is, there appears to be no formula for callings; there is no constant in there. Which makes it incredibly hard to know in our minds as well as in our hearts that we are called; because there is no pattern to test our calling against.

Some callings are of an extraordinary, precise and unmistakable nature. S/Paul, on the road to Damascus, had a great and life-changing experience. Gideon was called out of a quiet life by an angel.
Some are more subtle. Samuel got called three times before recognising the Lord and his calling. Some, but not all, are made through people – Saul, Elisha are examples; and to an extent Gideon’s calling.
A lot of callings lead to massive changes in the lives of the called (both Sauls, Gideon, Elisha, etc.) but some happen to people who are already in the temple (Samuel).

The only constant is that once the nature of the calling was established and accepted, there was no doubting it. There was a strong resolve to do whatever needed doing to serve.

This is encouraging and daunting at the same time. Encouraging, because it means that if I commit to the ministry for life, it will be a deeply satisfying decision. Daunting, because it feels like there’s no getting out. A relief too, because there’s nothing I can do about it.

My calling wasn’t spectacular. It started out as a feeling last September – a series of tiny nudges in the direction of ministry; combined with a series of advertised opportunities to grow in that direction. When I reached the stage where I took it seriously, and prayed about it, that feeling was fed and grew. When I started going for the opportunities given to me, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. My prayer turned from “Is this real?” to something akin to Samuel’s “speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”. And I’ve taken things one at a time since. I’ve shared this with close friends, and with my own Elis. At this stage, I’m serene and trusting that, if this is God’s calling for me, it will lead to the ministry. Like many, however, I still sometimes momentarily doubt whether I’ve not just made a massive mistake; but quickly realise that these are just insecurities about my own abilities, and am quickly brought back to the confidence in my calling.

If you’re in ministry or planning to go into the ministry, what was your calling like?

What would your advice for people who are feeling called (including me) be?