Christ’s call is clear: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). We do not know the specifics of such an invitation, but we know the Person issuing it.
Every Christian is called by God to serve Him. Some are called to specific places and specific tasks to which others may not be called. All Christians are called to share their faith and to be about Christ’s mission in the world, but some Christians are called into what is often referred to as “full-time Christian service”, “a Christian vocation” or “the ministry.” All of these phrases refer to the calling to a career or vocation that is related to Christian ministry.
Today there are numbers of teenagers sensing God’s call into full-time Christian ministry. Perhaps you have a close relationship with a minister at your church who is helping you understand more about your sense of calling. Or maybe you have a friend who is also sensing a call. Whether you are surrounded by helpful people or feel alone, let’s consider things you need to know.
First of all, don’t panic as you face the unknown. God’s call is an exciting adventure! Everyone who acknowledges His call into full-time vocational Christian ministry experiences a wide range of emotions, from fear to excitement to amazement.
There are multitudes of questions, such as “Why would He choose me? ” “How will I ever be capable of such a task?” “What will my parents and my friends think?” “How can I be sure I am clearly understanding what God is saying?” These questions and emotions are common. As you continue to talk with Him about your thoughts and feelings, God will lead you along the correct path to fulfill His plan for your life. Remember: Your call from God does not have to pattern after someone else’s call. God knows your specific gifts. He will place you where He wants you to be. If you desire to serve in a local church, that church will seek you out to serve among its local body of believers. If God is calling, He has plans for you!
Second, we recommend you talk with someone about your call. Your pastor, youth minister, or Bible study leader may be able to talk with you and connect you with someone serving in a ministry to which you feel God calling you. Girls may have fewer role models in ministry, even though there are increasing numbers of women serving in staff positions in local churches, as chaplains in military, law enforcement, prisons, and hospital settings, and on the mission field. Those serving in ministry positions are excited when they hear from a student who is considering God’s call. So, don’t hesitate to contact someone.
Third, don’t neglect God’s claim on your life today. He has plans for you as a Christian teenager. You must not overlook today’s opportunities in exchange for thinking about the future. Your personal disciplines are vital in the discovery of and growth in your Christian walk of faith. God will most clearly reveal His plan for your life if you are seeking Him on a daily basis.
Reading the Bible each day, prayer, scripture memory, and sharing your faith are vital as you prepare to serve God in your future, as well as in the present. Be sure to make the most of every opportunity offered by your church: Sunday School, worship services, weekday Bible studies, discipleship groups, missions organizations, youth choir – whatever your church provides.
When possible participate in opportunities such as mission trips or local service projects in your area. Be careful not to dominate or take charge of every youth activity offered by your church simply because you sense God’s call to a Christian ministry. Leadership is important, but domination will turn people away. A Christ-like spirit of servanthood will provide the most excellent example for others as you look toward a life of full-time ministry. You may choose to have an accountability partner, or a person who will pray with you, challenge you in your areas of strength and encourage your growth in areas of weakness.
Finally, your school and your education are areas of preparation you can focus on today. Many full-time Christian vocations require (or highly recommend) a college and/or graduate school education. You don’t have to be a National Merit Scholar or the highest ranking student in your class to achieve this goal. Begin today to take your studies in school seriously. Being a hard-working student today will be great preparation for your education beyond high school. It will also serve as a good witness to your teachers and the students around you. There are teenagers who sense a calling into Christian ministry who fail in the area of academic preparation. Don’t allow poor study habits or laziness to hinder how God wants to use the gifts He has given you.
Even if you are the first student in your youth group who has sensed God’s call to ministry, do not allow the unfamiliarity and newness to frighten you or dampen your enthusiasm. As a believer, you are reborn into a relationship with Christ and provided with specific gifts for the building up of His kingdom. Your willful submission to Him and trust in Him, empowered by the Holy Spirit, are all that are needed. God wants to do exciting things in and through your life. It can begin today in the life of any willing Christian, including you!
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’
And I said,
'Here am I. Send me!’“
Isaiah 6:8, NIV