How can I be sure I’m on the right track?
By Daniel Salamu
In a general sense we are all called. We are called to salvation by a God who loves us and calls us according to his purposes (Romans 8:28). When we are sure of that call, and living in obedience to God’s Word, we can seek his guidance about how He wants us to serve Him. Then, as He leads us, we can seek his specific direction to a particular type of service.
A call is a very personal experience, but how can we be sure we are on the right track? There are various ways to test our call. Are we praying and seeking to live in obedience to God? Is our call compatible with God’s Word? What do others think? What is our motivation, and are we equipped to carry out our call? Is our spiritual formation sufficiently robust for what we are being called into?
Fortunately, we do not live the Christian life in isolation. Belonging to a body of believers is so important, because we can seek the wisdom of others to help answer these questions. Our church leaders and those with whom we worship and serve are well placed to walk the journey with us, help us test our call and support us as we carry out our ministry.
The apostle Paul had a clear call – Jesus spoke directly to him – to preach to the Gentiles (Romans 15). But even Paul went with the blessing and prayers of His sending church (Acts 13:1-3).
All Christians need to be sure that they are spending their time, energies and money in the ministry, church and job that God has for them at a particular point in their lives. However, there are specific considerations associated with being sent by a local church and mission agency, and there are challenges that come with cross-cultural ministry in a multi-ethnic team. These considerations and challenges necessitate a strong conviction or call to the ministry.
If we are living in obedience to God, He will guide us. As we seek His direction about how we should serve, may we be as certain as Paul of the ministry to which God has called us.
Common excuses for avoiding God’s call
1) I don’t feel called to serve as a missionary.
- We are all called: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
- Two-thirds of “God” is “Go.”
2) My family needs me!
- God wants us to honour our parents and love our friends, but He has made it clear that our love and obedience to Him and his calling on our lives must come first.
- “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
3) God needs people to stay here.
- It’s true that God calls some to stay where they are and witness in their daily lives and professions.
- If God has called you to go, do not stay; if God has called you to stay, do not go.
4) I don’t have/can’t raise the money to go.
- “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” Hudson Taylor
- Jesus said the worker is worthy of his wage (Matthew 10:9-10).
5) The mission field is dangerous!
- There is no place of greater blessing than the centre of God’s will.
- Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall save it.”
6) I don’t have any special talents or abilities.
- “No missionary has ever been sufficiently qualified to serve God, and every missionary I have ever met feels horribly unprepared for the task at hand. Your ability and skills are less important on the mission field than your willingness to serve others …” (From “Justifications for Avoiding Missions” by Mike Pettengill, The Aquila Report, online, 28 February 2013).
- When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
From “Confirming the Call to Mission,” presented by Watson Joseph, SIM Malawi’s Consultant for New Initiatives, at the 2015 PBS Conference
From Nigeria, Daniel and Malata Salamu serve in Burkina Faso