How Can I Know If I Am Called To Preach?

Many a young Christian man asks,  “How can I know if God is calling me to preach?”  The question is vitally significant but the answer is not simplistic. How indeed?

This makes me think back to my own call to ministry. What ejected me from the comfortable pew and thrust me into the exposed pulpit?  Several strands weaved themselves together. Not independently-  but cumulatively –  these elements formed a strong chord which have ‘bound me’ to the pulpit ever since!

I’ll untangle these strands in the form of four questions.¹

1. The Gift Question‘Do people benefit spiritually when I preach and teach the bible’?

You will not be preaching like Don Carson after your first few sermons! ²  But are people ‘profiting spiritually’ when you teach from the Scriptures?  God plants a teaching gift in the lives of certain men (1 Tim 3:2). This gift cannot be self-generated. It can only be identified and cultivated (1 Tim 4:14. 2 Tim 1:6).  If a gift is inherent, even our first and worst sermons will likely be somewhat helpful to those who hear them.

2. The Church Question ‘Does the church increasingly recognise the presence of my gift’?

While it is important that I have a desire to preach, it is equally important that the church desires to hear me preach! The external call must meet the internal call. Normally, any church worth its salt will soon recognise a man with raw teaching gift.  In light of this, a  brother should ask himself: “Do I keep being asked to speak in church contexts”? “Am I gradually being invited to preach longer“? “Is there any encouragement coming from the eldership/pastor of my church to pursue further training”?

3. The Character Question –  ‘Do I desire to be an elder and am I striving to meet the biblical qualifications for eldership’?

It is my understanding of the NT that the primary teachers in a corporate church context should be elders, who have a particular strength in teaching (1 Tim 3:2, 5:17). If that might be my future role, it makes sense to ask, ‘is there a desire in my heart  now for the role of eldership? (1 Tim 3:1).  We can similarly ask, “am I aspiring to the qualifications for eldership?”

4. The Motive Question ‘Do I want to see unbelievers saved, believers sanctified and God glorified’?

A would-be-preacher mustn’t enter this realm of sacred duty merely because he likes the sound of his own voice! Far less for his self-aggrandisement and glory! Do I desire salvation and sanctification in the lives of people around me?! Do I long for God to be magnified through the preaching of His Word?!


¹  These questions – especially Q’s 1 and 2 – assume that a man is receiving some opportunity to share God’s Word in a public context. It is impossible to assess a man’s gift without giving him some avenue in which to test the gifts he has.

² Fair warning:  you may never preach like Don Carson!















10 thoughts on “How Can I Know If I Am Called To Preach?

  1. Good points here! However, shouldn’t number 3 (aspiring to the qualifications of an elder) be true for every man of the church? Each man is the elder (pastor) of his own family.

  2. I am not sure if you did this on purpose but, as I was going through questions #1 through #4, the answers seem to crescendo from a firm, quiet “yes” to #1 to “PRAISE BE TO GOD, YES!” for #4.

    Thoughts immediately flashed into mind:
    1. Why didn’t he start #4 as #1?
    2. Oh, I see why. #4 is the joy and desire of all Christians. (I could be incredibly naïve on this point. My apologies if I am.)

    To this man who God has blessed but has not sent out, thank you for such wonderful encouragement.

  3. Dave,

    Are you assuming that these four areas preclude the Holy Spirit? I would assume the opposite. The Spirit works in and through each of these four aspects.

    ie. Any gifted man is gifted by the Spirit. If the church recognizes a man’s gifting they are following the Spirit’s leading. If a man desires to be an elder, it evidences the Spirit’s presence in his life. If a man desires to bless people and glorify God in his preaching, it shows the Spirit’s involvement very clearly.

  4. Blake, I agree. Meeting the character qualifications of an elder should be an aspiration of all Christian men.

    Joseph, you certainly could reorder these points. Its not an infallible order!

  5. Pingback: Shepherd Links – 6/2 | Pastoralized

  6. I like the way you identify the call to preach with four questions. I have three evidences to preach at What you have written is similar to my thoughts. Thanks for the confirmation.

  7. I may never preach like Don Carson who ever the heck he is nor do I want to I want to do it the way God intended let me be honest Im only 18 have zero idea what I wanna do with my life but this topic of preaching came up so I decided to look in to it if you feel led definitely ask God for his will in my life and or that it will be done I struggle immensly with sin but I who dosent but anyway i dont know what my calling is right now i feel like a bum and i dont want to be that i just want to want what GOD wants I WAnt to Want what he has for me not my selfish meanderings I wanna know that when I die for sure im gonna be with him that hes gonna look at me ands say I belong with him not depart form me you evil one I want to know him more Ive been told i have a deep mind my thoughts are all over the place now and as im writting but what ever I dont know myself all that well either truly what are my gifts tallelnts skill what am i good at i want to know truly i do who am i what am i to do and thats about all i have to say

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