Are You Called to Preach?

Editor's Note:  I first wrote this article in 2005 in a series of blog posts.  I've rewritten some portions of this article over the years as I've softened a bit as I've aged, removing some of the unnecessary sharp edges.  While the intended recipients of this series of posts is directed to would be preachers, it really applies to all of us who are loved of God.

     Do you think you are called to preach? Do you know a zealous man who thinks he is? So what is this "calling” of which we hear often spoken? All throughout the evangelical world, young men get this burning in their bosom that they are “called to preach.” My question for all those that think they are called is this… “PREACH WHAT!?”

     What exactly are these men called to preach? They think they are called to join the preaching profession that is! They think they are called to have a bunch of people pay them a salary for life for simply getting up every Sunday and spewing filth from their pulpits. What’s amazing is that the deceived keep shelling out thousands of dollars to listen to this poppycock.  After all, if they can help contribute to the salvation of souls, maybe they too will be rewarded for their efforts in heaven. It's impossible to escape the self-righteous works mentality without the Spirit of God freeing us from this prison of thought.

     These “called” men think they are called to make converts, not realizing that it is God’s business to convert folks. They don’t understand the Gospel of Sovereign Grace, thinking that salvation is up to a “free will” decision.

     Martin Luther wrote that, “if any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus Christ rightly. (Martin Luther, Sermons, Vol. 1, p. 395) ” He believed that salvation was entirely conditioned upon Christ’s work alone.

     Martin Luther was truly called to preach. He did not care for financial gain as he had everything to lose by preaching the Gospel. When he nailed his 95 theses to the door at Wittenburg, he practically nailed his death sentence to the wall. His only motivation for preaching was love of the truth. He could not help but to stand up for the Gospel of Christ and His accomplished salvation. It was impossible for him to stand down as seen at the Diet of Worms where he made his infamous “here I stand” speech. This man bravely stared the most powerful organization in the world in the eye and yelled triumphantly, “here I stand!” He was called to preach.

     Are you called to preach? If so, you will know exactly what preaching is! It’s proclaiming the Gospel to those who will listen, to those the Lord leads to you in providence. It’s about telling your friends about what great things the Lord has done! It’s not about receiving a salary or becoming a pastor of a church; and it certainly isn’t about making converts. “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the SPIRIT and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of GOD.” (1 Cor 2:4-5) If you are called to preach, you may never receive a dime for your efforts and you may never see a single person converted to the truth. But you will not fret as you know that God’s word does not return void. You simply can’t keep quiet about what the Lord has done and nobody is going to stop you.

     If you are truly called to preach, you will be looked down upon by the world and its religionists. You will be called a bunch of derogatory names! Very few people will be interested in your message as it will not appeal to the flesh.

     If you are truly called to preach, be prepared to live without honor. The only honor is in the message that you bring and you won’t mind! You will be more than happy to speak the truth expecting nothing in return.

     If you are truly called to preach, you cannot escape this calling. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16)

What Preaching Does Not Entail

     If you are truly called to preach let me enlighten you about what some of this does NOT entail.  If you are called to preach, this does not mean you are called to be an elder or a pastor of a church. To many, this is simply shocking and unacceptable because it violates the entire institutional model that most of churchianity is based upon. The standard or common way of doing things in the church world is to first “feel called”, get confirmed in that calling by some “holy men”, head off to some seminary that is endorsed by the denomination or church that you want to be affiliated with, earn your degree, and become “ordained.” Eventually, if you’re a good talker and prove yourself to have good administrative and business skills, you may be “called” by a church in order to “shepherd the sheep”, or at the bare minimum serve as a “youth minister.”

     All of this is hogwash and completely against what the Scriptures teach concerning preaching!  To preach simply means to proclaim or announce the Gospel (by speaking or writing).  If you don’t know exactly what the Gospel is, then read and study the scriptures until the doctrines of substitution and satisfaction are understood and pray the Lord will humble you, revealing your wicked heart.  If it be God's will, He will bestow upon you the eternal prize of knowing Christ!   And please understand that salvation is not found in a formula, but found in a person.  The Gospel is not a formulaic message.  The Gospel is a message of salvation accomplished, and it's ALL OF CHRIST.  Augustus Toplady summed it up well with his hymn, Rock of Ages.

"Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee for grace:
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Savior, or I die."

     If you are called to preach, you must first of all love this message.  And you will meditate daily on the Son, your union with Him, and rejoice in the doctrines of scripture, which will include God's predestinating love for His people, the satisfaction of Christ, and His sovereignty over all things!   This message actually consumes much of your time and your thoughts as all things pale in comparison to it. It is the topic you most desire to talk about and you will seek for others that also rejoice in this message.  You will feel most at home amongst the people of God, gathered 'round the throne and singing praises to your King!

     If you are called to preach, you don’t need to know how to craft an eloquent sermon. Most preaching and teaching by Christ Himself and later by the apostles was in the form of dialogue… not sermons.

     If you are called to preach, the only skills you need to get started is the ability to think and talk.

     If you are called to preach, you’re not sitting in your chair reading this article and wondering, “am I called to preach?”

     If you are called to preach, you probably already are preaching and may not realize that you are a preacher! Imagine that!

Don’t Expect a Salary

“The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” (John 10:13)

     If you are called to preach, then do not expect a salary for your preaching efforts. You’re preaching not because you want money, but because you have a burden. Your burden is not need of money, it’s not a desire to convert folks, it’s a desire to see the truth of God magnified. You’re a lover of truth and being that, truth is exactly what you want to talk about. Your message is your burden, and you look forward to talking about it with likeminded people and those that will listen.

     If you are called to preach, expect to work hard at a regular job like Wal-Mart, the post office, farming, or even tent making. You may be pumping gas or digging trenches. If that’s not appealing to you, then invest in “an education”, get a silly degree that the world requires, and then you can sit behind a desk all day. If that is still not appealing to you, too bad! It doesn’t matter what you do, just do not expect to be making money for your preaching. Remember that even Paul stated that he had coveted no one’s silver or gold and that he had paid his own way by working hard (Acts 20:34-35) with his hands.

     If you are called to preach, expect to be giving financial support to the brethren and not receiving from them. In Acts 20, Paul is giving the Ephesian elders specific instructions on their duty as elders and from Acts 20:32-35 it is clear that elders are to be in the financial position of giving to others (just as Paul was), and not receiving from them.

     Now I’m not saying that you may never see any money for your efforts and labors in proclaiming the Gospel. Nor am I saying you don’t deserve financial support for your preaching. Preaching the Gospel is a very important calling, and it is worthy of financial support! You may very well receive money that will help you with your expenses. For example, in the past I’ve received money from many of the saints online. I have taken all of that money and reinvested it into the website as there are some expenses with operating a website such as this one.  But I don’t expect it - and neither should you. Paul repeatedly stated that he had the right to financial support, but he nevertheless established a pattern for all of us to follow. And that is to be prepared to give and not receive financial support. After all, if Paul the APOSTLE could do without payment for his endeavors, who are we to expect it?

     If you are called to preach, don’t expect a personal secretary, a plush office, health insurance, or a 401K retirement plan. These things are not mandates.  And these things are nice to have!  But ultimately these things won’t matter to you as you’ll be doing something you truly love - proclaiming the Gospel. Of course all of this assumes that you are truly called to preach!

Don’t Expect Everyone to Like You

     Do people like you? Don’t expect too many people to like you if you’re called to preach. In fact, you will become enemy number one to a number of zealots and so-called evangelicals. Your message is an exclusive message that glorifies Christ alone; and men in their depravity hate that message.  The sheep that love the Gospel will shower their love upon you, and you will enjoy their company.  But the rest of the world, particularly the religious world, they will not.   So don't expect it!

     If you are called to preach, you will receive scorn from the religious world. Your own family may turn against you and declare you as their enemy. Your message is offensive to self-righteous pharisees, especially pastors. Most “pastors” after all make their living off a false message, and if you preach something that is contrary to what they teach, they are likely to be the most outspoken against you due to your undermining of their foundation not to mention their salary!

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:34-39 KJV)

     Do lots of people like you? It’s likely that you’re not called to preach or you are not preaching with clarity! The offense of the cross generally brings out the worst in people, including their hatred of its trumpeters. If you are called to preach, and lots of people hate you, please understand that their hatred is of Christ first and foremost. Be content to suffer their reproach outside the camp. You’re not trying to be offensive, it’s just the message you bring is offensive. That’s not your fault, or even the message’s fault. The fault lies with those who are offended.

     If you are called to preach, you probably will be publicly mocked, hated, and misrepresented. You will be called a thief, a harlot, mean, harsh, intolerant, judgmental, and/or arrogant. Your message is not possible to be refuted, and men in their desire to “beat you” will resort to name calling and pitiful tactics to prevent your message from being embraced. Zealous religionists will mischaracterize your message and call it derogatory things in an attempt to innoculate their brainwashed followers from understanding the truth. Others will get close to you and pretend to agree with you only to turn against you and the truth at a later date. But this won’t matter to you because you know that the Gospel is a message that comes as “glad tidings” to the elect and comes as a message of condemnation to the unelect. It is impossible for the elect to be kept from understanding and embracing your message; and besides, your concern is not making converts, but proclaiming the truth.

     If you are called to preach, you will suffer. Men will persecute you. They will even attempt to kill you if given the opportunity. They hate Christ, and they hate His message of an accomplished salvation that leaves no room for any self-merit on the part of man. They will throw you out of their synagogues, make up lies against you, and write nasty things about you on the internet and magazines based on their misrepresentations. To deceive their followers, they will claim you don’t believe in preaching the Gospel or don’t believe in things such as “human responsibility” while failing to inform others that you teach that all men are accountable to God.

     If you are called to preach, you will not give any care to whatever evil things depraved men may do to you because of your message. You are just the pitiful messenger unworthy to be carrying a message of Supreme and Sovereign Grace; and whatever men may do to His messengers they will not stop the cause of God and Truth. You can take comfort in that.

     If you are called to preach, while you may suffer, you will experience great joy in the Lord. The Gospel is a wonderful message to dwell upon and talk about.


“This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me… ” - 2 Tim. 1:15

     If you are called to preach, there may be times when you think you’re only one of a handful of people that love the truth. You will not meet a lot of people that rejoice in the same message you do. In fact, you’re just a pilgrim — a wayfaring stranger simply passing through. Along your way, you will meet other pilgrims that you can learn from, and others you can help. Those moments will be very special to truthseekers such as yourself because these meetings will be few and far between.

     If you are called to preach, you will look around this crazy world and wonder if it’s all gone insane. You will at times feel like the only sane person in the insane asylum. Now I know that’s a scary thought, but take comfort that this is exactly what God has determined in His immutable counsel. His people will all be dependent upon Christ alone for their strength, faith, hope, and assurance.

     You may see whole congregations of people who seemed to believe the truth turn and reject the message in which you rejoice. Don’t believe me? It’s happened, and it will continue to happen, again and again.   Can you name a church that is faithful to the truth that has been around more than a hundred years?  All of them eventually fade away or turn to false doctrine.  And Paul, along with the rest of the Apostles experienced this in their lives as well.  Before their deaths, I have no doubt they looked on with horror many of the churches they established turn their backs on free and sovereign grace. The great apostasy and the doctrine of anti-christ arose during their lives and it has yet to die the miserable death that we long to see.

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. - 1 Jn 2:18

     If you are called to preach there will be many snares and traps laid along your way, and beer and cigarettes are the least of your concerns. You will face much greater obstacles and pitfalls such as false doctrine and crafty wolves who will attempt to overthrow your faith. Be prepared for men that look and sound like you but incrementally introduce false doctrine in subtle ways.

     If you are called to preach, be prepared to do battle with that which does not agree with your sword. Your sword is Scripture, faith is your shield, and your hope is your helmet — to which you must never venture without. If you are called to preach, you will battle deadly foes. You will fight hard and take some mighty blows in your struggles against the enemy. However you will soon learn that it’s the Lord who will fight your battles for you.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. - Heb 4:12

For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. -1 Th. 5:7-8

     If you are called to preach, you will find yourself standing alone at times. But stand you must. However, remember that those who stand for Christ never really stand alone. They actually stand upon Christ the ROCK which supports them, yet causes many to stumble.

     Grace and Peace!

Article originally published on March 2, 2005.  Updated on September 6, 2019.  Revised again on Aug. 9, 2021

Topics: Pristine Grace Hyper-Calvinism Churchianity Gospel Distinctives
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