I took some time this past weekend to muse upon my journey in becoming prepared to spend a lifetime pastoring. My wife and I are thankful for the opportunity we have to stop and again ask ourselves before others ask us, what are the marks of being called to pastoral labor.

In a birthday present to Edmund Clowney, a practical theology professor at Westminster, Harvie Conn collected an article by Geoffrey Thomas on ‘The Pastoral Ministry’. Thomas at the close of that piece suggested that these things mark a person called to pastoral ministry;

They have a sense of inadequacy and awe when faced when faced with the commission and call to preach.

They have a special sense of constraint to do this work.

They are consumed by the ministry.

They see preaching Jesus Christ to the whole world as the glory of the Church.  

They see that effective preaching requires proper training.

As I considered these items, first I was surprised by the amount of attention given to ‘preaching’. I think today’s climate of training pastors is more focused on full-orbed ministry needs thankfully (I think Thomas had a fuller picture in earlier parts of the article). Secondly, I felt that one thing missing in this list, among many other things, was the context of that proper training. I am as much indebted to the men I’ve interned under and the people I’m blessed to call friends for my spiritual formation as I am for the academic training I’ve received. In fact I’d say I’m more indebted to the churches than the schools, much more. Thirdly, I was challenged and encouraged by Thomas’s emphasis on being consumed by the ministry and the constraint to do this work – there’s only one thing I can do in life, pastor. Finally, I was surprised by his addition of the missional dimension of the call, ‘preaching Jesus Christ to the whole world is the glory of the Church’!

Lord of the harvest bring up a people that are passionate for mission, passionate to see you glory spread throughout the world. Father help us not to miss your calling, your heart felt affection to resurrect and recreate men and women into the image of your Son. Use us, your broken and feeble vessels though we are…