Dave Harvey can write a good book. And he’s got a new one out. It’s called Am I Called? The Summons to Pastoral Ministry (Crossway, 2012). Have a read of a free pdf of the foreword (from Matt Chandler) and opening chapter here. How about this for an appetite-wetter:
‘You see, God isn’t haphazard in whom he calls or what he calls a man to do. He doesn’t appoint bureaucrats over his church; he appoints men—flesh-and-blood, bone-headed mistake factories like you and me. He takes an ordinary guy, carves out his character, grants some grace, trains him with trials, zaps him with zeal, and corners him in his circumstances. Then you’ve got a pastor. That’s a story worth telling—a story about grace.’
This got me thinking about the language of ‘calling’. I’ve generally tended not to use the language of being ‘called’, apart from referring to the Christian’s calling to salvation. It seems this is really the only ‘call’ that we get clearly defined in the Scriptures that we’re to expect for ourselves: God’s sovereign, effective and gracious call to salvation, a la Jesus in John’s gospel: ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…’ (15:16), or Paul in Ephesians: ‘that you may know the hope to which he has called you’ (1:18). I wonder if at times all the chat about ‘calling’ and ‘vocation’ can cloud and distract from this wonderful calling that every Christian has and can rest upon. I’ve definitely witnessed up-close others believing the myth that the ‘minister’ or ‘priest’ is more spiritual than anyone else.
Certainly one sometimes hears the language of ‘calling’ being used by someone to give a super-spiritual gloss to what is potentially just a self-determined insistence on something, despite what everyone else is saying, i.e. ‘But seriously I’m called! This is so of God!’ From experience it can also make other people feel useless and less spiritual, leading to ‘how come I don’t feel God is calling me?’ or ‘why is that only vicars and pastors get called? Isn’t God interested in my life?’ I guess this relates to another post I wrote, discussing how we think & talk about how God guides us.