One night, I had a dream. I dreamed that men broke into the bedroom where I grew up and confronted me about my faith. They proclaimed that if I didn’t denounce Jesus, I would be tortured and eventually killed. They began with nails and progressed from there. Yet I never gave in. However, as the final act came, I began to doubt, and… then I woke. And I have never known what my final decision would be.
In my career, I’ve had seasons that felt like torture and had to choose whether to continue to minister or to give up. During these times, I have remained (though once by the skin of my teeth), and what has allowed this was my call. I have clung to the fact that God called me to this ministry and has not yet called me away.
I agree that everyone is called to minister, but there is something special about the call to professional pastoral ministry. And while there are good arguments to be made that “professional pastoral ministry” is not a God-given ministry at all, I believe that He uses the clay He has, and so calls us to that ministry. I’ve met many ministers who cannot identify a call, and I would say they are probably not called. This is not a judgement about their ministry, but when the hard times come, I wonder to what they will cling?
Jeremiah was in prison, under house arrest, and even thrown in an empty well to die, yet when asked to share the Word of God, he never wavered. Doom and gloom though it was, it was God’s message and he could give no other. I would beg good money that what kept him honest and going was his call. I cannot imagine following God through the pain through which He calls us without it.