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What is the Criteria for Pastoral Calling? (Spurgeon's Answer)

From time to time, I will pull an old and dusty, but strong book off my shelf to read again.  Pastor Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students was put (at least in part) into a book for publication in 1954.  These are significant thoughts for those contemplating ministry as a vocation and a great reminder for those who are in ministry to keep going.  He has a wonderful set of criteria to evaluate whether someone is “called” into the ministry as a vocational pastor.

Here is his list in chapter two of the book.

“1. The first sign of the heavenly calling is an intense, all absorbing desire for the work.  2. In the second place, combined with the earnest desire to become a pastor, there must be aptness to teach and some measure of the other qualities needful for the office of a public instructor.  3. In order further to prove a man’s call, after, a little exercise of his gifts, such as I have already spoken of, he must see a measure of conversion-work going on under his efforts.  4. A step beyond this, however, is needful in our enquiry.  The will of the Lord concerning pastors is made known through the prayerful judgement of His church.  It is needful as a proof of your vocation that your preaching should be acceptable to the people of God.”

In my summary,

1. There must be a God-given passion to be a pastor.  Only this will sustain under attacks and pressures.
2. There must be proof in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Communicating the Word with faithfulness is essential.
3. There must be fruit from the Gospel.  Conversions to Christ and equipping the saints for ongoing ministry is a critical proof.
4. The body of Christ (church) must affirm the pastor’s gift of preaching.  Gifts, of all kinds, are recognized in community, not in isolation.

To see the whole book, go here to Lectures to My Students.

What do you think?

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Jeff Baxter's passion for helping the next generation know and love Jesus led him to pursue his Doctorate in Youth and Family Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeff has been a frequent speaker in various settings including the National Youth Workers Convention. Jeff lives in Littleton, Colorado, with his wife, Laurie, and their three children where he is an associate pastor at Foothills Bible Church. His most recent book is Together: Adults and Teenagers Transforming the Church (Zondervan). Jeff blogs at sacredoutfitter.blogspot.com.