In part three, I recommend having your calling verified by a group of mature believers who know God well and you well. Here’s my story.
I greatly benefited from the counsel of a group like this when I was trying to find a church right out of seminary. I had interviewed with a church in Chicago that I really liked, but when I prayed about it, I felt strongly I was not to go. I was upset with God, but I obeyed.
Months later, I was in view of a call at a church in Alabama. On Saturday night before my big trial Sunday, I sat up in bed I the middle of the night with this church from Chicago on my mind. The next day, the Alabama church voted to extend a call to me, but with a substantial minority of “no” votes. I went home confused. I gathered a group of people who knew me well and knew God well, to pray and talk it through. So we started by praying together, and then they started asking me questions. Penetrating questions. At the end of our time together, it was clear that I was to tell the Alabama church no, and then re-contact the church in Chicago, tell them what happened, and trust God with the outcome.
I did. The result? The church in Chicago voted unanimously to call me, and I enjoyed 6 ½ years of ministry there. The pastor of the church in Alabama left the church abruptly two weeks after I turned them down. He called me later to tell me the story and to tell me about the serious problems and un-health in the church. Finally, once I was on the field in Chicago, a dear old saint who had been praying diligently during their search told me she was convinced the first time that I was the one who was supposed to be there. She and some other prayer warriors prayed that I would return. Her assessment at the conclusion was that had I come the first time I interviewed with them, the church would not have been ready for me.
God’s speaking to me in that way was an awesome relief and encouragement. You and I need the insight of others to verify our callings, both general and specific. Tomorrow, I’ll publish a two-page assessment you can use to help you with this.
For more on this from a source far more authoritative than I, see Richard Foster’s excellent book, Celebration of Discipline. He has an entire chapter on the discipline of guidance.