When A Calling Gets Hard (You Know It’s Real)

At Revolution, we want to be a church that plants churches. This means, we have a lot of guys walking through our doors who want to plant churches. It also means I have “the calling” conversation on a regular basis. Depending on your background and denomination, “the calling” conversation takes on a variety of weights in terms of importance.

Not only do I meet a lot of guys who want to plant churches, but I also meet a lot of guys who want to be leaders or church planters because it is cool and sexy. For these guys, being a pastor is not a calling, it is a job. Sutton Turner lists 8 ways you know it is a job and not a calling:

  1. If your primary motivation is to pay your bills and provide for your family, it’s a job. If your primary motivation is to serve Jesus and be used by him as he builds his church, it’s ministry.
  2. If you want praise and recognition for your work, it’s a job. If no one else besides Jesus needs to commend what you’re doing, it’s ministry.
  3. If you want to quit because your spouse or kids have a difficult time with you working for the church, it’s a job. If your family understands that serving in a local church is difficult and costly for everyone, and if they count the cost and invest in it with you, it’s ministry.
  4. If you envision yourself in another job or position outside the church, it’s a job. If there’s no other place you would rather be, it’s ministry.
  5. If you do the job as long as it does not cut into other things (hobbies, family activities, etc.), it’s a job. If you are willing to give up recreation in order to serve, it’s ministry.
  6. If you compare yourself with others outside of church staff who have more free time, more money, and more possessions, it’s a job. If you pray for people outside of church staff and want Jesus to bless them, it’s a ministry.
  7. If it bothers you when the phone rings on evenings and weekends, it’s a job. If you see random calls at odd hours as opportunities to help with gladness, it’s ministry.
  8. If you want to quit because the work is too hard, or the pressure is too great, or your performance is criticized, it’s a job. If you stick it out, no matter what happens, until Jesus clearly tells you that it’s time to go, it’s ministry.

That last one stands out to me. The way you know you are called to something is if you stick with it when it is hard. Leadership is hard. Planting a church is hard. Sticking it out when it seems everyone else stands against you is hard. Losing friends because they don’t buy into your vision is hard. Not making a lot of money doing something is hard.

Jesus is not looking for guys who want to stand on a stage, who want their name to be known or put up in lights. He is looking for people who are willing to do hard work, who are willing to not be noticed, to not be remembered, to simply point to him in all they do. That is what makes fulfilling the calling God places on your life, you don’t get the credit for it.

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