Today’s guest post is from Evan Duncan. He is pursuing his MDiv at Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, and he currently serves as media and communications director at First Baptist Church in Temple, Texas. Originally from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, he has a passion for using all forms of media to help spread the gospel message across the world. Duncan loves spending time with his wife, Brittany, as well as reading, writing, watching baseball, and trying to be funny on Twitter. For more of Duncan’s work, visit www.evanduncanmedia.com.
I sit next to an accountant, a scientist, and a lawyer as I try my best to translate the fourth chapter of Philippians. I was afraid seminary would just be full of bearded white males right out of college. While we have plenty of those, I didn’t imagine that my classmates would be so diverse and have such fascinating backstories. I didn’t plan on going to seminary until about five months before I started classes, so I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has struggled navigating through life—or struggles with translating Greek, for that matter.
I was convinced I would be a writer or a professor, so I double majored in journalism and philosophy in college. During my senior year, I was studying all these great thinkers who had dedicated their lives to knowledge, only to have their works coated with dust on the library shelves. I asked myself, “Is this what I’m supposed to do? What I’m meant to do?” I knew it wasn’t. I was leaving college armed with Photoshop skills, a journalism portfolio, and the ability to almost explain Immanuel Kant. I had no idea what was next.
I’ve always imagined “calls to ministry” sounding like God calling to Samuel in Eli’s house in 1 Samuel 3: 8–10:
“And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”
Perhaps it happens in a vision like with Isaiah, standing before the Lord and a host of partying angels and the called yelling out over the dubstep and through the smoke machine: “Here I am! Send me!”
My call to ministry is much more ordinary than that. Or maybe it isn’t. I realized, as graduation approached, that I couldn’t imagine doing something in life that wasn’t for the kingdom. Even though I had no idea what a post-seminary career would be, I could see how God has used me throughout my life. Whether it was as an interim youth minister while the real leaders were on vacation or shooting and cutting church announcements, I was happiest and most passionate when working in ministry.
I wanted the call to be an audible voice because I wanted security. I wanted to know confidently that God picked me for something and if I just did what he said I would be OK. But God isn’t so concerned with us feeling comfortable.
Oftentimes we talk about calls as if they are the one finite moment in time. I don’t refer to my call in the past tense because the call of Christ is ongoing; it’s fluid. My call has me in seminary today, and may have me packing up everything and dropping out tomorrow.
In the book of John, Jesus calls some disciples and they call their friends. Everyone is unsure of who this Jesus is and what he is doing. The response by the followers is the same each time: “Come and see.”
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:37b–39a, 45–46
I sat before my philosophy professor and told him that postgraduate work in philosophy just wasn’t for me. I wanted to follow Christ in local ministry. I wasn’t sure how that would work out professionally. I didn’t know how I could afford seminary, or worse, life with a seminary degree.
Yet here I heard my call. Not in a voice or vision, but in the collection of my life experiences. It came in a chorus of my mentors, family, and friends. I heard it most clearly in prayer and my studies of the Scripture and theology.
The call to ministry isn’t always parting of the clouds. Sometimes it’s as simple as a pull of desire and hope. It was there that I heard my call. I still hear it as I take on a new class or am asked to preach somewhere new. This is the call I hear when someone wants to help someone who has been forgotten, or when someone is curious about who Jesus is.
Think you may be called? Come and see.