What truly constitutes our call to ministry?
Four elements come together to produce a valid and obedient call (that counsel of God mentioned in Psalm 32):
A strong personal conviction or motivation felt by an individual to engage in something very specific that impacts the life of others.
It’s important here to realize that this isn’t a single instance, but it’s likely that we will have more than one call during our life.
The second element is something we refer to as effective enablement, which can come through general life experiences, education, or very specific personal events and occurrences.
In some cases, the enablement is obtained during a relatively brief time period, while in others it may take decades. It can involve such things as skills (including healing, art, and speaking), knowledge (foreign languages and biblical knowledge, for example), attitudes (like mercy and courage), and personality traits (such as gentleness and boldness).
The third key element is opportunity to perform the ministry to which we are called.
An opportunity can be spontaneous and short lived, occurring as an encounter on the street, in a store, or in a tragic emergency. It can also be long-term, to the point that a particular life path opens up one situation after another to impact individuals in on-on-one encounters or with large groups. God knows when and where our motivation and enablement come together and puts us in the right place at the right time to serve others’ needs.
We are to surrender to God’s leadership in general and to each specific prompting God delivers. This is the fourth element and it clearly rests on each of our own shoulders.
Specifically, it does no good to have motivation, enablement, and opportunity it we don’t step up and do what’s needed right then, when, and where it’s needed. The surrender might be just a few moments—an interruption to our day to address a person in need. Or it can be a long time—maybe, even an entire lifetime—that willingness to be devoted to a singular cause or type of ministry.
God leverages the unique capacities of each to carry out His redemptive plan for the world. When we examine the parable of the vine and branches from the book of John, the visualization of the branches spreading and growing in support of the vine connects us to the the result of our individual preparation, call, and response.