This is amazing:
The book is wonderful, too.
I’ve been asked the question many times, and I’m not sure I agree with it. The question often assumes that pastors, unique among all the vocations of the world, will (and sometimes must) have a powerful, divine, subjective call to ministry that overwhelmingly points them in their God-ordained direction. I don’t see support for that sort of normative experience in Scripture.
But I understand what young men are looking for. They understand that pastoral ministry is weighty work, not to be entered into lightly. So naturally they want to know that their inclinations are not self-serving and their direction is not a fool’s errand. They are looking for a few signposts along the way to show them that they’re not obviously on the wrong road. That’s a commendable impulse.
Here are several questions you should ask yourself as you ponder a call to pastoral ministry.
In Psalm 24, the question is raised: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (vv. 3–4a). The requirement for ascending to the place of God in worship is that our hands are clean and our hearts purified. The question then becomes, “Who has clean hands and a pure heart?” Whose worship in thought, word, and deed does God find fully acceptable? Whose service is perfectly pleasing to God? The only One who has such hands and such a heart is Jesus our Lord. Appropriately, the Bible reminds us that He has ascended the holy hill. He has entered the holy place, not by the temporary washing of the blood of goats and calves (Heb. 9:12), but by His own blood. By entering in, He has made a way for you and me to enter in as well (Heb. 10:19). Does Jesus have clean hands? Yes, and so do all who have been washed in His blood. Is Jesus of a pure heart? Yes, and so are those who have been scrubbed by His blood. Through the blood of Christ, our hands and hearts have been cleared and cleansed. This means that, because of the blood of Christ, we are able to serve and worship God.
But what really counts is the day after the hoopla. Everyone knows how to be romantic when they are trying to impress someone. And yes, I am very happy that my husband still wants to impress me on Valentine’s Day. But Matt is an amazing husband everyday. He woke up this morning to me pounding away at the computer. Like every other morning, he grabbed my empty cup of coffee, and went to get me a second cup, just as a way to serve me. And he tells me with a concerned look on his face, “We forgot to pray together last night. We can’t get into that habit; we need to make sure to pray together tonight.” 1,000 more points without even trying to impress.
I recently read this testimony from a guy who grew up in the pop-Evangelical culture of the late 20th century and who, for 7 years, was a full-time staffer at a large, well-known Evangelical para-church ministry. Sadly, I’ve heard this same kind of testimony from numerous people who grew up inside the church. As you can see from how he describes his experience, distinguishing law and gospel is not simply a theological exercise. Perhaps you can relate.