When I began as a pastor nine and a half years ago I read all manner of pastor books. I read tons of them until they bugged me too much. Maybe I’ll read one or two a year if someone gives me one.
I got one recently. It bugs me. As with most pastoral books they build you up as God’s man on earth and there’s no hope apart from pastors. Please.
One of the issues that has bugged me is the whole idea of being “called to be a pastor.” There is no such thing in scripture. The closest you get is Paul saying he was called to be an apostle. However, based on the manner of Paul’s calling, i.e.–being blinded while talking to God–I doubt any pastor could claim such certainty. It’s just not there. Yet every pastor book talks about it as being a legit test. “Calling” usually means “you got hired or not.”
Here’s a quote from the latest pastoral book I’m reading, “One does not choose the ministry! A pastor is chosen.”
That’s just plain hooey.
“This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” 1 Timothy 3:1. “Desire” means “to reach after, earnestly covet.” In other words, guys can be pastors if they really want to. Period. There’s no mysticism about it. If you want to do it, go for it.
Being a pastor is a gift (Ephesians 4) given by God. We are to covet earnestly the best gifts. If you want to be a pastor you can covet to do it and you can. Romans 11:29 says gifts and callings are two different things. Calling is generally used to describe our predestination to be believers. Gifts are what the Spirit does through us as called believers.
The underlying nonsense of “pastoral callings” is the idea that pastors are above laymen, we’re a special class, specially loved by God cuz we’re so awesome, God just couldn’t have us be a lowly laymen. Get over yourself. You were called like every other believer and gifted as any other believer. We’re all in this together.