Becoming a pastor isn’t a decision anyone should make lightly. The challenges are significant, and the stakes are high. If you’re considering becoming a preacher, here are five signs you’re being called by God to preach:

Sign #1 – An Inward Confirmation

I taught Sunday school for many years. However, after a while, it seemed that something was missing. I loved teaching Sunday school, but I had a passionate desire to study the Word of God and pass on that knowledge to others.

Every day I would listen to Bible teachers and I grew to love learning from these men, yet most of the things I studied were beyond the Sunday school level. I had felt this for some time, but I kept thinking, “Who do I think I am for such a thing?”

I believe it was like Jeremiah 20:9, “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” This fire was unquenchable and I was going to explode if I couldn’t preach or teach others.  It was so strong that I didn’t care if I got paid or not. I had to preach! It was an irresistible pull. I truly believe now that it was God calling me. If God is not doing the calling, then it is not a true calling.

Sign #2 – An Outward Confirmation

For years, I had co-workers ask me about things in the Bible or what I thought about their life’s circumstances. They asked about what to do to save their marriage, how to battle a struggle with pornography, or how to overcome an addiction. I spent a lot of time researching these subjects and had an overwhelming urge to go to seminary, which I did.

Many times people told me I’d make a great pastor because of the counsel they received. I didn’t rely on my wisdom. Instead, I picked the brains of Christian marriage counselors, Bible teachers, and searched the Scriptures for biblical responses.

When I came as a guest to a church that wanted to create an outreach, their pastor retired that week and they asked me to fill the pulpit. The church validated my inward calling by telling me they sensed God was calling me to be their pastor. I resisted this for a long time before they finally became exasperated and told me, “You’re ignoring what God is trying to tell you!”

Sign #3 – A Church’s Call to Preach

When I came to the church I am at now to train them on evangelism and outreach, as I mentioned, they asked me to fill the pulpit. I did so, although reluctantly at first. After a while, I felt such a sense of purpose, fulfillment, joy, and pleasure that I finally felt that God must have called me. It was after a time filling the pulpit that the church ended their search for a pastor. They called the church board to vote and, by a total majority, they voted to ordain me.

If you are called by God to be a pastor, God will open the door for you somewhere. I didn’t open this door; God did.  God is the one who opens doors that no man can open (Rev 3:8). If God doesn’t open the door for you to preach at a church, you might think about whether this is truly God’s calling. However, He may give you time to study and go to seminary. Perhaps He’s waiting for the best church in which to place you. Remember that God places the members of the church where it pleases Him (1 Cor. 12:18), not necessarily where it pleases us because God always does what He pleases (Psalm 135:6).

Sign #4 – An Inward Hunger

Before I became a pastor, I had this ravenous hunger to learn more about His Word. Reading the Bible wasn’t enough for me, although that is an essential sign too. I wanted to dig deeper into the original languages of the Bible; Hebrew, Greek, and some Aramaic. I also wanted to learn about translations, transliteration, exegesis, hermeneutics, and other areas of study.

Hermeneutics was especially of interest to me because we apply it to the interpretation, or exegesis of Scripture.  Exegesis is the investigation into the history and origins of the text. It may also include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the Bible’s authors as well as a study of the text and original audience.

Does that sound like something that interests you? If so, it may be a sign that you are being called by God to be a pastor.

Sign #5 – A Broken Heart for the Lost

This sign should be in every believer, but it might even be more so with those called into the pastorate. If you care about people’s eternity so much that you’re willing to face rejection, scorn, ridicule, and persecution, you might have a calling from God. All believers are called to make disciples (Matt 28:19-20), but this desire to rescue the perishing is something that we cannot contain. You won’t even hesitate to witness to a total stranger.

Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of all time and a man whose heart broke for the lost once said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” Is that what you feel?

Confirm Your Call to Preach

If you have most or all of these signs, you may have already been called by God.

  • Talk with others and see if they affirm this in you.
  • Look inwardly and see if you’d be miserable doing anything else but preaching. 
  • Look to see if you an insatiable appetite to dig deep into the Word of God. 
  • Does this calling seem to come from your church? 
  • Do you have a heart that breaks for the lost to the point where you’d be willing to witness to anyone for the sake of Christ? 

If this is the case with you, then God may be calling you into the pastorate. You won’t be able to ignore it. This calling will be like a burning fire shut up in your bones, and you’ll be weary trying to hold it in, for indeed, you cannot.

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