Our friends at Ligonier Ministries recently interviewed Sinclair Ferguson, dean of the Doctor of Ministry program at Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and a Ligonier teaching fellow. You can read the full interview here.
In the interview, Dr. Ferguson discusses men struggling with whether they are called to pastor ministry:
TT: What counsel would you give to a young man who struggles with whether he is called to pastoral ministry and, therefore, whether he should attend seminary?
SF: It would depend on how well I knew him, of course. But I think my counsel would include reflections such as:
(1) Paul suggests it is a great struggle to have (1 Tim. 3:1).
(2) Don’t short-circuit the struggle.
(3) On the other hand, try to be clear whether your struggle is with (a) your clarity about God’s calling or (b) perhaps about your own willingness to be obedient.
(4) There are three elements in a call to ministry: (a) a divinely given desire; (b) the requisite gifts and graces (for example, as set out in 1 Tim. 3:1–7 as well as a desire to become the kind of undershepherds described in 1 Peter 5:1–4); and (c) the encouragement and recognition of the church, eventually formally in ordination but long before that in the way fellow believers receive and recognize your present service to and among them.
(5) In this last context, I might tell my own story or that of someone else. It is usually the story of the awakening of desire to serve Christ and His people (2 Cor. 4:5 has been a big text for me here). It is a deep sense of “how can I possibly do this?” And then it is the help of fellow believers who give encouragement to go forward because they have received something from Christ through our present service.
(6) Make sure you are willing for a twenty-four/seven lifestyle in which the aim is “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). And if you plan to marry, or are already married, be aware that the quality, commitment, and courage of your ministry is unlikely to rise above the level of your wife’s commitment to it, to your people, and to you.
(7) It is a calling so wonderful that I wish I could begin it all over again.