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Call Waiting: Connecting with God's Purpose for Your Life

What Characteristics Should a Candidate for Ministry Exhibit?

God calls people with such a diversity of gifts and personalities that it is hard to pin down a list of characteristics. God rarely calls the people we'd expect. Consider the story of David in 1 Samuel 16:1-13.

Notice verse 7 (underlined): "The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."

Though ministers are called in a variety of ways, the calling comes from God and is according to God's wisdom and judgment.

If you doubt that you are good enough for this calling, you are correct. There is not one human being good enough, of themselves, for this holy calling; but take heart: God gives those called all that they need to serve. Jeremiah had a lot of doubt, too. He said, "Ah, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." But the Lord said, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you'... The Lord touched [Jeremiah's] mouth and said, "Now I have put my words in your mouth" (Jeremiah 1:6-9).

Generally, a qualified candidate for the office of minister of Word and sacrament within the RCA will demonstrate that he or she:

  • Has heard God's call on his/her own life and heart and has had this call affirmed by God's church
  • Has a deep relationship with God that seeks continually for renewal;
  • Is passionate about the gospel
  • Has integrity in word, deed, and relationships
  • Is faithful
  • Trusts in God's providence
  • Cultivates depth in spiritual life
  • Is an active member of a local congregation
  • Is emotionally mature
  • Is compassionate and able to empathize with others
  • Is self-confident
  • Is self-aware, vulnerable, and understands his or her own fallibility

It is important to remember that none of us comes fully equipped with these characteristics, but we grow into them over time--God's time--with experience and by the grace and mercy of God. Our faith lives ebb and flow; we make progress and fall back. We are shaped and reshaped. We are the clay, and God is the potter.

Often, particularly with younger candidates, fellow believers will discern the gifts for ministry in people who do not yet exhibit many of the above qualities. It is the task of the church to build up such young people in their faith and to encourage their gifts and calling.

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