Listening for God’s Call

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Pastors and mature believers in the congregation need to remain sensitive to those among them who display evidence of gifts and character that might signal God’s call on their lives. Sermons and lessons dealing with the call ought to become ordinary parts of the congregation’s diet. Pastors should occasionally refer to their own story of calling as a way of both publicly reaffirming their commitment to it and inviting others to consider God’s call on their lives. If a called ministry is as vital a conviction for Baptists as it appears, then creating an environment in which people learn to listen for and obey God’s call would be a reasonable extension of our theology into our practice.

R. Robert Creech, Pastoral Theology in the Baptist Tradition: Distinctives and Directions for the Contemporary Church, p. 47

This is exactly right.

I’m finding myself much more receptive and sympathetic to Creech’s account of call and its place within the life of the church body and in the life of the Christ-follower. I’ve been reading other accounts of calling; a slew of books has been published this summer that I’ve been less agreeable toward.

All are called to follow Christ. The outworking of that calling, however, is individual and specific, and it is possible for a person within the fellowship to develop the conviction that their task is to shepherd the congregation and preach the gospel.

Creech notes that pastoral leaders can create an environment where people learn to listen for and obey God’s call. They cannot force God to call anyone. But Baptist theology and practice can lead to the cultivation of a posture toward God that is receptive to God’s calling, not only in the preaching of the Word, but also through the testimony of the saints, the pastor included.