Do you have a full-time call? Rev Poh shares some pointers on this.
It was in May 1999 that I left my secular job and responded to a call to serve full-time in the church. That was the beginning of a journey of faith and learning to listen to our loving Master who leads and calls us.
Toward the end of 1998, I felt a prompting in my spirit to leave my job to serve God on a full-time basis. It was a rather chilling feeling, almost something that seemed onerous and even frightening. I suddenly felt the weight of a serious decision that I might need to make, which will deeply impact my life as well as my family’s. My wife was a marketplace leader and our daughter was only five years old then. Many questions flooded my mind:
“God, is that You?”
“God, is it the right time?”
“God, if it is You, where and what do You want me to do?”
“God, will I be able to fulfill what You want me to do?” “God, will we be able to manage financially?”
My wife and I decided to pray as we knew that this was going to be a major decision. We needed to hear from the Lord clearly. It wasn’t only about obeying Him, but needing to be clear about the call, the timing and following His leading. About five to six years earlier, I had felt a similar prompting. During a season of prayer, we received a Word from the Lord that my time serving in the secular world was not over yet and I was to continue to be in the marketplace.
We prayed through a period of six months, not wanting to rush the moment but wanting to hear desperately and clearly from the Lord. The Lord was gracious and gave us three confirmations that it was time for me to step out in faith. Since then, we never looked back.
How do I know that I have a full-time calling?
Let me start off by stating that a full-time call is an honorable call. It is one that must be taken seriously. To go ahead of the Lord and to respond to emotions or hear wrongly, can potentially lead to much pain, frustration and disappointment with God as well as with His people. A good godly intention may not be a God-intention. We may be stepping out of God’s will had He intended for us to be in the marketplace. Because full-time ministry can be very challenging, it can mean years of struggle and pain unless one hears from the Lord clearly.
Here are some guidelines that one can keep in mind when considering a full-time call. In our experience with different individuals, God’s call cannot be put down to merely fulfilling some pre-requisites, but one must always be mindful of hearing directly from the Lord, as each call may be different. For instance, Apostle Paul was called through a blinding encounter with God.
- Prompting from the Lord
This is a most likely starting point for a call into full-time ministry. This must not be an emotional response but a carefully prayed-through process. As this is a serious decision, it must be one that should not be rushed through but consulted on and prayed over for confirmation.
- Confirmation and Counsel (Proverbs 11:14)
Your leaders, your peers and those around you are good gauges of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your potential calling. Choose carefully whom you approach to seek counsel from and pray along with you.
- Examining your heart and motivation (Jeremiah 17:9)What are the reasons you feel led to go into full-time ministry? Is it to fulfill a personal dream that you will be preaching to hundreds and thousands one day? Is it to fulfill someone’s expectation of you? If the motivation is pride or to please someone, then you will need to get back on your knees.
- A disciple today?
Fundamental to this is the basic question of what and how you are doing now. What are you like as a disciple of Christ today? Faithful in church attendance and the various church activities? Serving faithfully where the Lord has placed you currently? If you can’t be faithful in the little things, you are not likely to able to do well in the greater things of God.
Are there fruits seen in whatever you are doing today? Do you have a passion for it or do you need someone to motivate you to get going? If you desire to be a pastor one day, are you presently leading or involved in a carecell that is doing well?
- How moldable, teachable and humble are you?
Do you feel that you are the person who is going to solve most of the problems you see in church today? This can be dangerous as you may be responding to a felt need rather than to a call.
I hope this article helps you make an important decision for your life wisely and for eternity. The work of the Kingdom needs everyone to live out their place in God’s Kingdom. Your consideration of a full-time call is indeed honorable and inspirational. Pray, pray and pray before you make any move! Stay accountable to your spiritual leaders.
About Rev Mark Poh
Rev Mark Poh is currently the Senior Pastor of Emmanuel Assembly of God. He graduated from the University of Waikato, New Zealand where he also received Jesus as his Lord and Savior in 1980. He served in the marketplace for 17 years before he was called into full-time ministry, joining the church as the Youth Pastor in 1999. He obtained his Masters of Theological Studies in 2005. He is serving in the EXCO of the Assemblies of God, Singapore. Rev Mark Poh with his wife, Aye Lan is married for 34 years and they have a daughter, Faithe.