John Ortberg just published an article exploring the idea of the “call” to ministry.
I have been a pastor for a long time now. When I was ordained in the Baptist church, one of the questions I knew was coming was, “Tell us about your ‘call.'” In our tradition, if you became a pastor, you had to have a “call”: a mystical, vivid, (but non-charismatic) experience in which you have an inner sense/compulsion/Voice (but never quite audible) that tells you to become a preacher.
I come from a long line of pastors. My great-grandfather, Robert Bennet Hall, got his call working in a small grocery store more than a century ago. He had run away from the orphanage where he grew up and married a grocer’s daughter. He was sweeping out the storeroom when he got the call. My brother-in-law got the call when he was working in a grocery store in our old hometown of Rockford, Illinois….
…I never got that kind of call.
It’s an honest, confessional exploration of his lack of a strong inner sense of calling to ministry, despite how much others thought he needed it. In some ways, Ortberg goes against what we’ve said about the inner sense of calling, but I respect him and find value in his discussion of it.