This is a little more targeted of a blog than I usually do, so after you read it, forward it to either a High School student, Youth Pastor, or the like that might be able to use its insights a bit more. I want to talk about being called into vocational Christian Ministry. This is a great calling indeed. I personally experienced that call at about 16-years old before starting my Junior year of High School. Depending on your family, the reaction you get might be anything from jubilation to contempt, or anything in-between. For some, it just takes them a minute to come around, or they might always make little comments like “so what’s your back-up plan?” It’s tough for someone who has not been in ministry to completely understand the depth of that calling. What can be tough for High School students especially is trying to figure out what they should do in preparation. When you tell your school counselor you want to be an engineer, she’ll tell you to take more math classes. When you want to be a doctor – more science classes. A graphic designer -more art classes. But what happens when you tell your school counselor you want to be a Pastor or Youth Minister or Worship Leader or Missionary? They might not know what to tell you. Likewise, your own parents might be at a loss for advice on this issue as well. So what should you do if you believe God is calling you to full-time ministry? What can you do to get ready? Here’s my advice for you:
Start Doing Good in English and Literature
Excuse me, you need to do well in English? There is no doubt that in ministry there is a lot more reading, writing, and speaking than you even realize. Doing those activities well is important for gaining knowledge and communicating that knowledge. Learning to love reading is important. (I never quite got there, but adults are allowed to say, “do as I say and not as I do.”) There’s also an added bonus if you ever have to take Koine Greek – the Biblical Language of the New Testament. Understanding what predicate nominatives, helping verbs, and infinitive phrases are will be more helpful than you could possibly know.
Start the Discipleship Process
Get with a pastor, youth pastor or someone similar and look them right in the eye and say, “Disciple me.” This is a secret code that everyone in ministry knows. (It means you want to be discipled.) What Jesus did for His ministry was grab 12 people and He taught them everything they needed to know. Those disciples then passed on their knowledge and wisdom, then their disciples passed it on, so on and so forth. Eventually it got all the way to us. Disciple-making is what Jesus calls us to do. I’m willing to bet that the minister you approach will be thrilled to start mentoring you. Then, when you are ready, start taking someone under your wing. Remember, you know more about the Bible than someone.
Start a Daily “Quiet Time”
Speaking of the Bible. If you are waiting until you become a Pastor to start reading the Bible on your own, well you are a couple years too late. If you are waiting for someone to tell you it’s time to start, well then it’s your lucky day, because that just happened. Pick a time that you should be free each day. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning, maybe it’s the last thing before you go to bed, or perhaps it’s somewhere in-between. Read a devotional or follow a bible-reading plan on your Bible App. Then take a few minutes to just pray to the Creator and Savior of the world. Building habits is hard, and it might be a tough start, but just keep plugging away and I promise God is going to reveal some incredible stuff along the way.
Start Being a Minister at Home
Ministry is hard. It’s hard because you deal with people, and people complicate everything. There is nothing tougher than ministering to your own family. They know you soooo well, and they certainly know exactly how to press your buttons. Practice patience and kindness. Display God’s love in every situation. Your family above all others need to see the radical change that has happened in your heart. I promise you, you will fail at some point, and your family will see it. Go apologize and do anything you can to prevent it from happening again. Hypocrisy is a ministry killer. Don’t be one person out in the world, and another person at home.
Start Looking for the Right Bible College
If you know God is calling you into ministry, look for a school that specializes in ministry training. A Bible college is a school that trains Pastors, Worship Leaders, Youth Leaders, Christian Educators, Christian Counselors, and missionaries. Often times they have other degrees as well. There are many private schools that offer a degree or two in some sort of ministry endeavor, but not all Christian colleges are equal. The first thing to look for in a doctrinal statement is in the section concerning their beliefs about Scripture. You should find the phrase “inerrant in the original autographs” or something very similar. Second, look at the biographies of the Professors in the Bible, Theology, and Ministry departments. Did they attend seminaries that meet that same standard? Finally, look at the number of Bible courses the average ministry student takes. Bible colleges usually require their students to take between 36 and 54 credit hours in Bible and Theology classes; however, you will find Christian colleges that require as few as 18 credits in the same type classes. I would strongly recommend the institution that requires the largest amount of classes that specifically will train you for full-time ministry. You have Wikipedia for everything else in math, history, science, etc. (Wikipedia is almost worthless for theological pursuits.) I think being a well-rounded person that’s knowledgeable in a variety of areas is useful in ministry. But NOTHING compares to knowing the Bible inside-and-out. Good Scriptural interpretation is what your ministry must be built upon.
Any other ministers out there have advice for the next generation. Leave your thoughts in the Comments.
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