Pastoral Ministry: A Foot Upon the Path


Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

James 3:1 (ESV)

To Know God and Make Him Known

I have lived as a Christian my entire life, but it was not until Eastertide of 2014 that God removed my heart of stone1 and gave me new birth2. You can read my full testimony here. The first six months to a year of being a truly regenerate3 Christian included a sweet time of God’s divine mercy and grace. During those days, I developed a sense that I should attend seminary, and so in the Summer of 2015, I began my theological journey at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Initially, my goal was not to become a pastor, missionary, or pursue any type of vocational ministry. I simply wanted to know God’s Word. I took classes part-time and was in no particular rush to finish. I took several breaks (fostering and adopting five children can take a toll on your ability to study for a Master’s degree).

At some point during my education, I decided I would be open to a call to the ministry should one come. However, it was still not my primary motivation for completing my degree.

In December of 2023, I completed my Master of Divinity degree.

Am I Called to Ministry?

What does it mean to be called to the ministry? I believe three things are necessary for a credible call to pastoral ministry.4


First is the issue of ability. Are you able? Are you appropriately gifted and skilled? Do you meet the requirements of elders [1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9]? If you cannot communicate the Gospel effectively you probably are not called. If you are a polygamist and have two wives, guess what? Not called. If you are a woman, you also are not called (c.f. Should Women Preach? The Role of Women in Church Leadership).

Internal Call

The second is the internal call. Do you desire to do the work of a shepherd? Do you love people? Do you love the church? Do you love God’s Word? Do you love communicating God’s Word?

“Do not enter the ministry if you can help it,” was the deeply sage advice of a divine to one who sought his judgment. If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way; he is not the man in whom dwells the Spirit of God in its fulness, for a man so filled with God would utterly weary of any pursuit but that for which his inmost soul pants.5

Charles H. Spurgeon

This bit from the prince of preachers is often touted as wisdom to determine inner calling. I (and my Pastor Ministry professor from SBTS) would somewhat disagree. I personally could work as a software engineer for the rest of my days. I don’t have a burning desire for the pastorate that would negate my ability to do anything else. In fact, if my denomination examined me and found me lacking, then I’d better be able to do something else!

But I do have a desire for this work. I have an extreme love for the earth-shattering-and-rebuilding work that God is accomplishing through His Church, and I very much want to be a part of that!

External Call

Finally, there is the external call from the Church. Somebody must want you to do this work. You may meet all the character qualifications, have an extreme desire for the work, and pour your heart into crafting sermons. But if nobody wants to hear your preaching, or if your personality is so offputting that no church could imagine submitting to your leadership, then you are not called.

A Foot Upon the Path

This past Sunday, March 10, 2024, Pastor Uri Brito announced my participation as a pastoral intern at Providence Church (Pensacola, FL) (see video at the top of the post). This one-year internship is part of the requirements for ordination as a minister in my denomination (CREC—Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches).

In a sense, I’ve been on this path since God changed my heart, and I subsequently sought to become seminary-trained. However, until now, it hasn’t been clear that I was heading towards serving the Church as a minister.

My Church session calling me to this work fulfills the external call, and I am answering. For me, this is a big step. I have determined to follow this course of action and to serve God with my talents and my life wherever He leads.

  1. Ezekiel 36:26 []
  2. John 3:3 []
  3. Titus 3:5 []
  4. Sinclair Ferguson has a nice, short explanation of the Call to Ministry. []
  5. Spurgeon, Charles H.. Lectures to My Students. Zondervan, 2010. Kindle edition, page 26 []