Do you remember the first time you preached and how it felt? How many people were there? What your text and topic were? Were you excited or terrified? Both?
When I was 19, I was invited to preach at a local youth group for the first time. After arriving for the service, the youth leader informed me that the adults would be a part of the youth service. This added to my excitement and several more butterflies in my stomach. For 20 minutes, I spoke on friendship and will never forget God’s presence during the service. And I’ll always be grateful for the youth leader and pastor who saw something in me and gave me an opportunity many years ago.
Though all Christians are called to make disciples, God sets aside some to serve in the five-fold ministry. God does not limit Himself to a certain kind of person at a particular time of life. Often, people will limit themselves in their service to God for reasons like, “I am too young” or “I am too old,” but God does not consider such things when He calls people into His service. Think of 1 Samuel 16:7 when the Lord said to Samuel as he was looking to anoint the next king of Israel, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
When God first called me to preach, some were supportive, others were not. Looking back, I appreciate those who encouraged and supported God’s call on my life. Words cannot emphasize how vital gentle, persistent encouragement is for young people pursuing God’s call. No one is ever over encouraged, so encourage often! Speak it. Write a note. Send a text. Make a phone call. Let them know that you believe in them, are there to equip them and inspire them to fulfill God’s calling in their lives.
After responding, “Here I am,” to the Lord’s calling, a fire was birthed in me. So I began to give special attention to prayer, biblical study, like-minded friends, wise counselors, developing leadership skills, accountability, and I attended a Bible institute. Pursuing God’s call brought great satisfaction and excitement unlike anything I had ever experienced.
One of the main ways I began to grow in my calling was mentorship. Finding a good mentor is like finding a gold mine. You might be good at something, but a mentor can guide you into becoming the best you can be. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” The Holy Spirit is the most incredible mentor you will ever have. It is the Spirit that develops godly qualities in us. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
The Lord will also place godly people in your life to encourage you along the journey. Those who have a servant’s heart, live a godly life, and lead by example have always inspired me. God never intends for us to live the Christian life alone. I like the following definition of mentoring that I once heard, “Someone’s hindsight can become your foresight.”
One of my greatest mentors, whom I had never met in person, was Tommy Barnett. Early in my ministry, I joined his tape club while serving as Pastor of Glad Tidings Church in Lansing, Michigan. I looked forward to the package arriving each month. Although he was not present in person, I felt like I was receiving one-on-one time with Pastor Barnett. Cassette tapes are obsolete nowadays, but we are afforded many opportunities to become better leaders through the ministry tools of our day.
If you are still growing in your life and ministry, you have undoubtedly discovered that this gathering process never ends. Whether you have been at this for a few years or many, you must do your part every day to fulfill the calling God has placed on you. It is up to us to fulfill 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Let your prayer be for God to continually make you into the person you need to be to fulfill your calling today and in the days ahead!
God still calls people to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need. And still, His children are responding to His call. So, start praying that God would raise up young men and women in your congregation and community to preach!
God still calls people. Is He calling you?
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