I once heard a pastor tell his congregation that he didn't have any kind of calling, he just thought that ministry looked like a good career for him. As he made his argument, I wondered if this man should be representing God if God had not selected this man as his representative. It's amazing that God even allows anybody to touch his Bride, that is, the Church, let alone those he did not set apart to do so.
Calling is important and answering the question, "Is God calling me?" is an important examination. In his book, Is God Calling Me?: Answering the question every believer Asks, Dr. Jeff Iorg states, "'Is God calling me?' is the essential question you must answer before entering ministry leadership or accepting a specific ministry assignment. Settling the issue of call is foundational to effective Christian leadership" (1). He further argues that understanding the answer to this important question "charts a lifelong course of ministry leadership" (1). In what could serve as a response to the pastor arguing that a call is not important, Iorg further writes, "As ministry leaders, we serve in response to God's invitation and at his pleasure, not at our initiative" (2). This book serves as a tool to aid in finding the answer to this extremely important question.
"My first goal," writes Iorg, "is to cut straight to the heart of the matter and give you tools to work through the call process. But detailed analysis and intellectual understanding are not enough. My ultimate goal for you is clarity about God's call so you can answer affirmatively!" (3). As clearly stated, Iorg sets out to meet his goals using the Bible and careful study, but also ideas and conversations that he has had about God's call for more than thirty years of combined ministry as a pastor and the President of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He concedes that over the years, many others have shaped his thinking and at times critics have even changed his mind (2). Peppered throughout the book are personal stories from Iorg's experience as well as those from many others.
Iorg starts by defining the concept of the call. Here he provides a biblical foundation of the importance of the call as well as a strong understanding of the biblical history of calling. He also provides his own working definition: "A call is a profound impression from God that established parameters for your life and can be altered only by a subsequent, superseding impression from God" (8). After he has laid some groundwork, Iorg offers three types of calls, from the larger call all the way to very specific calls that function within an individual's larger call. Continuing, Iorg deals with the kinds of people God calls (which are diverse and surprising), how to discern God's call, and how the calling shapes the life of those God calls. And then in a very practical conclusion, Iorg discusses some specific calls such as the call into mission work as well as the call to pastoral ministry.
I originally picked up Is God Calling Me? at the recommendation of another pastor and friend. A number of young men had been meeting with me about entering ministry in some capacity or another and some of them were even considering seminary. As my pastor friend and I were discussing the call upon some of these other guys, he told me he read Is God Calling Me? as he was considering leaving a campus ministry for seminary. I purchased the book thinking it would help me counsel these guys. But as I started reading, I found myself working through each page, slowly chewing on the concepts and ideas. It served as a great conformation of my general call and helped me process some aspects of present, specific calls in my own life. I found Iorg's book extremely helpful.
As I was reading through Is God Calling Me? I had the opportunity to discuss the call with Ryan and Janai Rindels from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and Chris Smith from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The book was fresh on my mind so it entered our unscripted conversations. Janai Rindels, Dr. Jeff Iorg's personal assistant, offered some great insight. The guys also provided some helpful thoughts as they both serve as seminary recruiters. You can listen to these conversations here:
Apart from Iorg's bias toward seminary (which I also hold), Is God Calling Me? is an outstanding book for those thinking they may be called and wrestling with calling. It's also extremely useful for the man or woman already called who will inevitably deal with additional specific calls from God as he or she journeys through a lifetime of ministry. I highly recommend this book!
-- Some of Iorg's other publications include: The Painful Side of Leadership, The Character of Leadership, The Case for Antioch, and Live Like a Missionary.
* I have no material connection to this book, monetary or otherwise.