Loving the Bible Isn’t Necessarily a Call to Ministry

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Editors’ note: 

For more reading on long-term faithfulness in ministry with practical wisdom from veteran pastors, see Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime from The Gospel Coalition.

In this video, Jeff Robinson talks about the call to ministry and whether delighting in God’s Word is sufficient cause alone to pursue full-time vocational ministry.

The following is a lightly edited transcript provided by a transcription service. Please check video before quoting.

I love to see young guys love good theology, love sound doctrine, and love God’s Word. I mean that is priority one, not just to study to know the Bible but to delight in Scripture and to love these things and I would want every Christian to love these things too.
In 1 Peter 2, a passage I started preaching this week, Peter says that his readers should “earnestly desire the pure milk of God’s Word.” And Peter’s command is to every Christian. So a love for the things of God, a love for good theology books, a love for the Puritans and the Reformers and all the rest is a good thing, and it will mature you and grow you in ways that nothing else will, but it’s not a call to ministry. The call to ministry is something very different. It might mean you’re going to be an overly educated but helpful lay person in your church, but I think the call to ministry is something else, that is fundamental and foundational. But that’s just really beginning to scratch the surface.
Being called to minister is much more than reading good books (you’re going to spend a lot of your time of course preparing to preach). Reading Scripture and good books is first priority. But you’re also going to spend a lot of time dealing with people, so you have to give yourself to loving people. Ask yourself, “Do I love people?”, “Am I’m able to relate to and talk with and be even comfortable with a broad spectrum of people?” When I see that kind of outlook in a young man such as some of the young guys in my church who are preparing for ministry, I start to think, Maybe this is a call to ministry.
And again this is something that happens over time as well but a zeal I’ve seen in seminary many times, a zeal for the things of God, is not really connected to a call to ministry. That can be disastrous. I’ve seen this happen when someone really isn’t called but they love the things of God. But the good news is you’ll learn that distinction fairly quickly and it will probably be good for you but it will probably not feel all that good.