As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Calling, as in being “called to the ministry”, has been a painful topic for me. It used to bother me when guys would say, “when I was called”, or “God called me”. That painful feeling was a clue, about me, my makeup, and my personal destiny. I wanted to be called, I wanted to be special, and I wanted to serve God with my whole life. So, “going into the ministry”, made perfect sense. But I also had a belief that one must be called, have a special calling experience from God, in order to become called to the ministry; which would be full-time vocational ministry. Right?
I got even more confused as I adopted and integrated the belief that all Christians are called to the ministry. You know, the priesthood of all believers. I am very passionate about there not being a clergy-laity dichotomy. I am very passionate about ‘every-member ministry’. I believe in leadership in the church that is very different from leadership in the world and I believe in elders and ministers and ministries. And I believe in offices, that are functional and relational, and not hierarchical/institutional positions. I believe that the ‘org-chart’ of the church is ‘flat’. Jesus is the head and we are all under him.
That’s me, and this is Dave: I picked up Dave Harvey’s book, Am I Called?
, after I read J. I. Packer’s endorsement that reads, “This is the fullest, most realistic, down-to-earth, and genuinely spiritual exploration of God’s call to pastoral ministry that I know.” Dave is 58 years old, and is a teaching pastor in Naples, Florida. Dave came to Christ in his late teens and earned a DMin from Westminster Seminary.
The forward is written by Matt Chandler, who reflects on his personal journey in ministry, and laments that he wishes that a book like Dave’s had been put in his hands, twenty years ago, so that he would have been saved from so much pain and loss, from his brokenness, sin, and blunders in ministry. Matt gives us a preview, that the book is going to be more about character formation, roots, and foundations; in a word, Christ.
I went from feeling like Dave was going to disqualify me, to being thrilled that this is really a book about knowing Christ and living the gospel, and that Dave and I have a ton in common.
Matt writes that Dave asks these questions that unpack if you are called:
- Are you godly?
- How’s your home?
- Can you preach?
- Can you shepherd?
- Do you love the lost?
- Who agrees?
Lastly, Matt says that after working through these, Dave talks about waiting on God. Sounds good to me.
In part one, chapter one, Dave clarifies that his book is written “for men who may someday be pastors”. He’s not an egalitarian.
Dave tells his story. When he started out in his Christian life (age 19 and early twenties), he needed a lot of work, probably just like all of us. “I was arrogant, self-indulgent, selfishly ambitious, impatient, and intrinsically rebellious.”
But Dave had stirrings, specifically when a preacher presented a sermon in church. His calling began to take shape. He began to wonder about himself being in ministry someday. Stirrings and desire, but what were the next steps? Dave asked himself, “How do I know if God was calling me to be a pastor?” (p. 25)