The Internal Call
“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”- 1 Corinthians 9:16b
We must be concerned about God’s will for every area of life, but in most cases we tend to ask the question, “What is God’s will?” when we must make specific, life-altering decisions. A young man might ask, “Is it the Lord’s will for me to ask Leah or Margaret to marry me?” Another person might ask, “Is it God’s will for me to become an accountant or a teacher?” A young woman contemplating college might wonder, “Is it the will of the Lord for me to go to University A or to College B?”
These are all important areas in which to discern God’s will, but today and tomorrow we will consider the issue of the will of our Creator and our vocation. The question as to God’s will for our career choices is intensely spiritual even for those who are not called to full-time work as a pastor or other church leader. Our Lord calls all believers to serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13), and it is easy to see this as referring exclusively to things such as volunteering in the church, making meals for sick people in our congregations, and so forth. However, our work outside of the Christian community is also an avenue by which we can serve others in love. Bakers serve others by baking the quality bread and other foodstuffs necessary for human beings to survive and thrive. Those who work in the field of information technology serve others by keeping their computers running smoothly so that they, in turn, can do their jobs. For the Christian, every lawful vocation is a means of service to our neighbors.
When it comes to the vocation of the pastor, we often speak of both an inward and external calling. Today, we will briefly consider the internal call, which is the inward, subjective desire on the part of the individual to serve the church and the personal sense that God has, in fact, chosen him for that task (1 Tim. 3:1). Yet we need not limit the internal call only to ecclesiastical vocations. The Lord has not given the vocation of pastor to every Christian, but He has called all of us to serve others, and He gifts us differently so that each of us is equipped for a specific service. God has given each of us gifts that make us particularly well-suited for specific tasks, and we are responsible to discern these things so that we can find our way into the vocation that will best allow us to serve others with our talents. If we are particularly gifted in a certain area or have a burning desire for a particular kind of work, that may be the Lord’s inward call on us to that vocation.
Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16b). He had an unquenchable desire to preach the gospel, as God had called Him to the vocation of pastor, church planter, and Apostle, granting him the desire for such work. We may not have such a desire to preach. Ours might be “Woe to me if I do not teach kindergarten!” or “Woe to me if I do not open a restaurant!” Whatever the case may be, a strong desire for a particular work often indicates that work is for us.
Passages for Further Study
1 Samuel 3