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How can I know if I am being called to preach?

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Question: "How can I know if I am being called to preach?"

There is no doubt that preaching is a noble calling and one that is important to God (1 Timothy 3:1–7; James 3:1; Ephesians 4:11–16). Preaching is not simply a time-filler in the worship service, nor is it the sharing of personal experiences, no matter how emotionally stirring. Nor is it a well-organized “talk” designed to give a series of steps to a better life. Preaching, as the apostle Paul records, is the vehicle by which the life-giving truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ is conveyed. The words of the preacher are to be faithful to the Word of God, which is “the power unto salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Paul’s admonition to the young pastor Timothy stresses the priority of preaching: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus . . . I give you this charge: Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1–2). So there is no doubt the preaching of the Word is of primary importance to God. Anyone considering entering the ministry as a preacher should also view the Word of God as priority number one.

But how can one be sure he is called to preach? First are the subjective indicators. If a man has a burning desire within him to preach—a desire that cannot be denied—that is a good indication of a “calling” by God. The apostle Paul and the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah experienced the same desire to communicate God’s Word. Paul said, “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). To be “compelled” to preach means to be driven onward by an irresistible and undeniable compulsion to do so. Jeremiah described the compulsion as a “burning fire” (Jeremiah 20:8–9) that could not be stifled. Trying to hold it back made him weary.

Second are objective indicators of God’s calling to preach. If the response to early efforts at preaching are positive, this is a good indication that the prospective preacher has the gift of didaktikos, the gift of teaching, from the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:11). Every preacher must be first and foremost a teacher of God’s Word, conveying it in clearly and concisely and making personal application to the hearers. Church leaders are usually the best determiners of whether a man has this gift. If they are agreed that he does, the prospective preacher should then be examined by the leadership as to his character, as outlined in the requirements for elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. These two affirmations by the church are another indication of God’s calling.

Finally, the whole process should be bathed in prayer every step of the way. If God is truly calling a man to preach, He will confirm it in many ways. If you feel you are being called to preach, seek God’s face and ask that doors are opened to more opportunities and more confirmations, both internal and external. Ask also that doors will close if it is not His will to continue. Take heart in the fact that God is sovereignly in control of all things and will work “all things . . . for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). If He has called you to preach, that call will not be denied.

Recommended Resource: Preaching: How to Preach Biblically by John MacArthur

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