How do you know if God has called you to be a pastor?

When Paul is reflecting on young Timothy who has been called to the ministry, he says to him in 2 Timothy 1:6, "Fan into flame the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands." I think there are three elements there that help us to recognize a call to the ministry. And a call to the ministry can come in very different ways.

One of them is that God has gifted us.

Another is that, beginning to recognize those gifts, the church begins to make room for them. And so there is a recognition outside of ourselves.

You know, I could have this conviction that I'm called to the ministry and nobody else shares that conviction, because when I open my mouth I talk nonsense. But when someone is called to the ministry and has been given gifts by God for that ministry, then God's people will begin to encourage them.

I know for myself that I don't think I ever would have made it in the ministry were it not for the encouragement that God's people have given to me, and given to me since I was a youngster.

Then the other thing is that Paul says "fan it into flame," which means that there is a willingness to commit yourself to Christ for that ministry, and also a commitment to love the Lord's people.

There are some people who think a call to the ministry is the same thing as "I really love to teach." But really loving to teach is really loving to teach. The real issue is, do you really love the people whom God has called you to teach?

So just as a starting place, I would say go to 2 Timothy 1 and reflect on these three things that Paul says.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Sinclair Ferguson and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.