Wed 29 Jun 2011
Have you ever felt as though you had a ministry call from God?
As Christian believers, everything we do in life—including our vocation—has both present and eternal value when we are serving God from the heart. (Col 3:23-24)
I regularly hear from readers who have a call from God for a particular aspect of ministry. Having a sense of destiny for a unique, God-ordained purpose can be a powerful motivator, regardless of whether the ministry is full-time, part-time or voluntary.
Usually, there is a process of preparation as we await the opportunity and timing to fulfil God’s call. It’s not unusual to experience trials and difficulty in relation to the call of God.
God called me to preach when I was just 15 years old. Over the years, I have learned that you can run away from His call, or you can run towards it, but you certainly can’t ignore it!
Last week I looked at the subject of personal guidance and if you haven’t read my post ‘Personal Guidance For The Important Decisions Of Life’, I encourage you to do so in conjunction with this article. Today I am focusing on a vital key that needs to be in place before taking action on a ministry call. 
That key is accountability.
The Power of Accountability and Leadership
Last week I gave the example of Abraham, who followed the call of God to Canaan. (Gen 12:1-5)
In the New Testament, God speaks to the individual regarding His destiny for his or her life, but the witness of that guidance is found in the church body and in leadership.
In the New Testament church, our Father has designed us to be interdependent upon each other, not independent. (1 Cor 12) 
The Apostle Paul had a clear call to ministry from God, that was confirmed by prophecy and accompanied by great signs, including an open vision of Jesus.
However, we see that he did not enter into the fulness of that call until the Holy Spirit spoke to the leadership of the Antioch church. Once sent by his church, he returned regularly to report in. (Acts 13:1-3, Acts 14:26-28).
Paul in turn recognised the ministry call of others such as Timothy and Titus, and released and appointed them to minister. Not only were they called, ready and available; they had also demonstrated a history of faithfulness in serving Paul himself.
Personal Lessons in Accountability
I have not always been good at accountability; in fact my call to ministry would have been seriously undermined (at worst, shipwrecked) if I had not learned some difficult lessons about responding to authority.
This cartoon is from my book, ‘Prophetic People In A Changing Church’ and demonstrates a significant error that many of us have when it comes to guidance. 
I call it the ‘hotline to God’ philosophy.
This is the misguided belief that revelation we receive personally from God is not subject to leadership and godly wisdom.
Accountable to Whom?
‘For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.’ Prov 11:14
Our local church leadership should be a vital source of accountability to us.
Many times our leaders and pastors know us well and are familiar with:
- Our attitudes and actions
- What we are good at
- How we are going in our character and family life
- Any blind spots that we need to consider
- Our love for people and willingness to serve
The accountability that comes from our church life can also be painful, which is why many of us avoid or circumvent it.
Some reasons for this include:
- Fear that we will miss God’s timing if we submit the power of decision-making about our call to others
- Distrust of authority in general due to past abuses, or
- Mistrust of our leaders in particular if there have been hurts, misunderstandings, or we are judgmental of them for any reason
By God’s grace, we can work through these things and become stronger.
If there is irreparable damage in your relationship to your church leaders, or valid grounds for mistrust (as I understand there can sometimes be), then it may be wise to take another look at your reasons for being in your local church.
These issues will not only affect your ministry call, they will also affect your ability to have a significant input in your church life, and your ability to faithfully serve the vision of the leaders in that environment. Inevitably, your responses will also affect others around you.
The bottom line, as Steve McCracken puts it, is, ‘Do you believe you are in the church where God wants you to be?’ If the answer is yes, and you know you are planted in a church according to God’s will, then the Biblical principles of accountability to leadership apply.
Of course, there are other sources of accountability available to us. I recommend having more than one trusted leader or mentor that you can go to, who can give you wise input about your decisions concerning your call to ministry.
You may be involved in a Christian organisation, as I am with David McCracken Ministries, where you have godly Christian leadership.
Remember that a safe mentor or leader is one who understands and practices accountability (is submitted to authority) himself or herself.
These should also be wise, experienced leaders who know what it is to exercise faith.
Trusting God for Your Ministry Call
A ministry call frequently has strong emotions attached to it, because of
- our love for God,
- our heart for the people we are called to minister to
- our concern about any problems our Father has called us to be a part of the solution to
We need to remember that God is sovereign. I have learned over many years that He is faithful, and that when we keep our hearts right, His will and word must prevail.
An inability to trust others in the process of being released and appointed to fulfil God’s call on our life can be a sign that we do not trust our Heavenly Father.
We are tested when we trust Him during times when the power to fulfil that call does not lie within our own ability to make it happen.  As we keep our hearts right, even during times of apparent contradiction, nothing and no one can stop the Father’s plan.
Benefits of Accountability
Some benefits of accountability include:
- An invaluable test of timing
- The added wisdom of others
- An outside perspective on any weaknesses or blind spots
- Commissioning is something to recall and hold on to when we go through trials
But the most important benefit of accountability has to do with the release of God-ordained authority that comes with it.
I believe that commissioning (Apostolic sending), as practiced by the Apostle Paul, is vitally important to ministry. 
Recently, my pastor and church leadership team anointed me and prayed, released and commissioned me to join the team at David McCracken Ministries.
At times like these, I believe a transaction takes place. There is blessing in unity. And we receive a commission and anointing for our new season of ministry.
 Accountability is also beneficial to any significant change in life direction. This is especially true if you have a family or others who will be impacted by your decisions.
 See my article, Not Word Perfect: Understanding How Prophecy Works In The Church Today
 I understand the pain that can be inflicted through abuse of authority. For my personal journey and lessons learned about overcoming hurts related to authority, see my e-book Prophetic People in a Changing Church
 A great example of this is Joseph. For more on this, see my post ‘Personal Guidance For The Important Decisions Of Life’
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog
On team with David McCracken Ministries
Do you have any experiences or questions to share about having a call to ministry? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.