After I spoke at a Christian college about the doctrine of vocation, a student came up and asked if I could give him some guidance. He came to the school thinking that he wanted to be a pastor, but then he felt drawn to becoming a teacher. “How do I know what the Lord wants me to do?” he asked.
I gave him some advice about discerning his talents, but then he asked a question that revealed the underlying issue: “What if I make the wrong choice?” What if I decide to be a teacher, but God really wanted me to be a pastor? Or what if I decide to be a pastor, but God didn’t really want me to be one? How could I teach or preach if in doing so I might be outside of God’s will? And how could I possibly know either way?
And then the answer came to me. “You can’t make the wrong choice,” I told him. If you decide to go to into the ministry—and, importantly, since vocations come to us from outside ourselves, if you finish seminary and receive a call from a congregation—you can be sure that God has placed you in that pulpit. If you decide to go into teaching and a school hires you, then you can be sure that God has placed you in that classroom. God may even place you in the classroom now and then later call you into the ministry.