When you ask yourself „Does God call me into missions?“, this often raises the question of how to distinguish God’s call from your own human, carnal wishes regarding a missionary activity. Here are some pointers on how to differentiate your own thoughts from your calling.
Five misconceptions with regards to God’s call:
A strong desire is not yet a calling.
In Mark 5:18.19 it talks about a man who had been set free and wanted to follow Jesus. But Jesus would not let him, but he sent him home.
A personal urge is not necessarily an indication for God’s call.
In Acts 16:6.7, Paul tried twice to move according to his conceptions, but God shut the doors.
To recognize a need is not necessarily an indication for God’s call.
In Mark 1:35-38, the disciples gathered needy people, hoping that Jesus would meet them. But Jesus chose another way.
Positive circumstances do not equal a calling.
In Jonah 1:3, Jonah even had the money for a ship journey although God wanted him in a different place.
Prophetic utterances always have to be tested.
They should simply confirm what God has already spoken personally to the addressed person’s heart.
What characterizes a clear call of God:
1. God takes the initiative.
He finds his co-workers. By the callings of Abraham (Gen. 12:1) and Moses (Ex. 3) we see that God spoke first. God is sovereign in calling his co-workers and leaders. Searching for people that he wants to use, he does not look in the first place for those who are already doing things for him, but for those who agree to be formed by him. He searches for people who seek him with an undivided heart.
• true worshipers
• people who are righteous and live righteously
• people who are faithful
2. When God finds these people, he will set them apart and prepare them.
Those who have a calling from God will also have the patience to let their character be formed before they ask for God’s details about their calling.
3. God explains the purpose for which he calls somebody.
In the case of Abraham and Moses, God spoke very clearly and told them what they had to do and what they should be. At this moment, not the “how”, but God’s claim to power in the life of a person is sorted out. God first asks for our willingness to be obedient before He confronts us with the details, the difficulties and the blessings of his calling.
The western mentality always first asks for the details in order to understand the full dimension and then to decide whether or not to obey God. But if Jesus is Lord, this is a completely different approach. Here, first the character is being formed and the obedience is being tested before somebody will be sent out.
4. God makes the place of destination and the activity clear.
With his call, He also gives details about field and areas of work. It is very possible that people are called to do things that exceed their human abilities and do not meet their expectations. In this case, they will have to trust God’s work, His presence and the Holy Spirit. After this, He will give joy with people and ministry: You will be joyful because He engages in the world and in situations.
5. God determines the time when the ministry starts and how long it will be carried out.
God’s time plan is often different from our human plans. The mission history and the lives of missionary candidates reveal sufficient examples of how impatience brings wrong results. The eagerness of Moses to take up his calling without waiting for the divine command lead to a delay of God’s plan in his life. Because Abraham and Sarah were unwilling to wait for God’s promises, Ismael was conceived.
We see Jesus not as a man who was in a hurry, but as someone who always did, at the right moment, what God expected from Him (see Gal. 4:4).
6. With God’s call He promises His presence (Matt. 28:20).
One should never underestimate God’s presence. For in a strange country and a strange culture, it is His presence that gives us the confidence of victory and of His empowerment to do what He told us to do. Without His presence, missionary candidates run into a life full of suffering and failing.
Even though the points that were mentioned above are always given when there is a true, clear call from God, God remains sovereign in the way how He calls. Whether He gives a vision or leads people through dreams, His peace or His audible voice, or whether He gives a heart burden like in Nehemiah’s case, or whether the call to missions develops over a time period or emerges suddenly – it remains God’s matter. In any case, you have to expect that the calling of God on your life will be tested. Only when the tests are passed, you will experience how high and wonderful is the calling to be a missionary.
Article by Brad Thurston. The information was summarized from a by Günter Krallmann.
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