One of the joys of my work is I often find myself in situations where I get to hear people share how God has called them into some particular type of ministry. In some instances, at a relatively young age, it becomes clear what God is calling someone to do. In other instances, the path is not as clearly defined, but the next steps on the path may be. I recently met a new friend who gave me the gift of sharing his call into ordained ministry story with me. He was on a career path, making a good living, and serving in and through his local church as a layperson. He and his wife were raising children and living a pretty normal life until God began to call him to go deeper. It began with his becoming called and equipped to serve in some specific ministries for laity and throughout a season of discernment he ended up setting aside his career, went to divinity school and is now ordained and has been serving as a pastor for a number of years.
As he shared his call story with me, it was clear that one of the ways that God spoke to him was through the encouragement of people who recognized his gifts for ministry. It started with people inviting him into opportunities to become equipped to serve in fresh new ways as a layperson and later as it became clear that God was calling him to ordained ministry. Each progressive step was made clear to him at the time, and he was faithful in following where God was leading, even though he didn’t necessarily know the complete plan that God had for his life and ministry. Thankfully he took each step, trusting that God would reveal the details as he needed to know them. As I got to know my new friend throughout a week together, I got the sense that God is continuing to challenge him and draw him into new ways to learn and grow and serve. And I have no doubt that he will faithfully follow, as he has demonstrated in his obedience to God’s call so far.
My new friend has reminded me that God speaks to us in a wide variety of ways. Through nature, through scripture, through dreams, through an inner voice (the divine spark that each of us carries) and through people who are inspired by God to offer a word of encouragement to us. There may be other ways that we hear God’s voice but I’m limited to speaking from my experience and the experience of friends who have shared the ways that God has communicated with them. God has plans for all of us to serve, whether as a layperson serving in and through our local church in the community, and for some into some sort of vocational ministry.
Let us all remain open to hearing God’s voice throughout the various ways that God communicates with us. Let us also remain open to be a conduit of God’s encouragement to others. Sometimes all that we need is just the next step. The path is sometimes clear and straight and other times it’s dimly lit and curvy, but if we pay attention God will lead us on the path.
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Claire – Remaining Open to God’s Call
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