By Jimmie Sheffield

Assistant to the Executive Team, Arkansas Baptist State Convention

The importance of God’s call

By Jimmie Sheffield

Assistant to the Executive Team, Arkansas Baptist State Convention

I first felt God’s call on my life in my junior year of high school. In the summer following that year, I surrendered my life to vocational ministry. That was sixty-eight years ago. At that time, I felt God was calling me to be a minister of education. Well, I discovered later that God really called me into vocational ministry, and He put me in different vocational roles throughout my lifetime.  

During my sixty-five years of ministry, there were times when I felt like maybe God didn’t really call me. Perhaps you have felt the same way. You may find yourself asking, “ Is this really what God called me to do?” Or, you may think, “I’m not sure this is worth all the trouble I’ve gone through. I can serve God in another vocation.” 

In my own life, I had the opportunity to study leaders in the Bible. I found something very common in Moses, Joshua, Nehemiah, Paul and others. Each of these men was still doing what God called them to do when God called them home. Let me remind you of Joshua and Paul. 

When Joshua came to the end of his ministry as leader of the Israelites, this is what he said: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15l, NLT) 

Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”  

We could look at other examples, but the point I want to make is: Never quit. Never give up. Stay the course. God called you, and He will see you through your life of service. He will always be present in your life, giving guidance and encouragement by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I have learned several things about God’s call on my life. I believe they are probably true in your life, also. I know God’s call is a call to love Him and serve Him with all your strength. However, I know that the expression of God’s call in your life will probably be different than mine. Some are called to pastor. Some are called to missions. Some are called to be a youth pastor.  

Regardless of the specific call on your life, God promises to be with you. Our job is to be faithful and finish the race.  

So, the question we all face in our ministry lives is, “How do I find the courage to keep on keeping on?” Let me suggest three things. 

First, you must be sure of your call. Other people can suggest that you would make a good preacher, missionary, worship pastor, etc.; but you must know that you have been called of God to vocational ministry. He may change the type of ministry He leads you to do. For example, I have served in six different ministry positions in my lifetime, but I have never forgotten that it was God who called me into ministry. 

Second, you might benefit from revisiting your call now and then. When you begin to think that you might like to try something else in your life, go back to the original call and remember God’s call on your life and your response. Often, this revisiting will give you encouragement and strength to continue in your calling.  

Third, you might need to remember that God’s call never goes away. I am 85 years old, and I still sense God’s call to serve Him. 

The call to vocational ministry is incredibly special. I certainly realize that all Christians are called to serve Him. My wife felt she was called to teach. That was a real call from God. Many are called to different vocations, but the call to vocational ministry will always be a specific and special calling. May God bless you as you continue serving God in the way He has called you. 

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