“Is God calling you into ministry?”
October 13, 2022
You may have heard the saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”
When Billy Graham was asked why he chose to preach the Gospel instead of following another career path, he responded, “The only answer I can give is that God called me to be an evangelist, and I could do nothing else but respond to His call. Every Gospel preacher would echo the same sentiment. Like the Apostle Paul, ‘when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach’ (1 Corinthians 9:16).”
While the world knew Billy Graham as an evangelist to the world for many decades, he, too, was unsure of what God’s purpose for his life was. In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Billy Graham shared the moment he knew he was called to preach while calling out to God on the golf course near the Florida Bible Institute where he was studying:
For some weeks, triggered by a profoundly searching sermon in chapel, I paced those deserted, echoing streets of Temple Terrace. In the moonlight, a soft southern breeze stirred the wispy Spanish moss that draped the trees on the golf course. I never felt so alone in my life—or so close to God. I walked through the late-night hours, struggling with the Holy Spirit over the call of God to be a minister. That was the last thing I wanted to be, and I had used all kinds of rationalizations to convince God to let me do something else.
I had the same sense of uncertainty in Charlotte nearly four years before, standing in the sawdust shavings of Mordecai Ham’s tabernacle. There I did what I felt I should do: commit my eternal destiny to the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. But was I now being asked to commit the rest of my life on earth to serving Him in a way that I did not particularly relish?
In the eighteen months since arriving at Florida Bible Institute, I exercised some gifts and began to develop some skills that I did not know I had. I knew that I loved to tell people the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. On Sundays I often preached on the streets of Tampa, sometimes as many as five or six times a day.
But in those days, the greatest ministry that God opened up to me was the trailer parks. One of them, the largest (or close to it) in the country, was known as Tin Can Trailer Park. Two ladies there had gotten the concession to hold religious services on Sunday nights, but they had no preacher; they asked me if I would come. The crowds ran anywhere from 200 to 1,000. They would take up a collection, which I think the ladies kept and used for some worthy project, and they would give me $5—a tremendous help to my meager budget.
Many people responded to my preaching by confessing faith in Christ and being converted. My teachers and classmates seemed to affirm that this ministry was good and right for me. But did I want to preach for a lifetime? I asked myself that question for the umpteenth time on one of my nighttime walks around the golf course. The inner, irresistible urge would not subside. Finally, one night, I got down on my knees at the edge of one of the greens. Then I prostrated myself on the dewy turf. “O God,” I sobbed, “if you want me to serve you, I will.”
The moonlight, the moss, the breeze, the green, the golf course—all the surroundings stayed the same. No sign in the heavens. No voice from above. But in my spirit I knew I had been called to the ministry. And I knew my answer was yes.
From that night in 1938 on, my purpose and objectives in life were set. I knew that I would be a preacher of the Gospel. I did not yet know how or when, however.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham and son of Franklin Graham, shared this reflection: “Have you ever considered how much your pastor gives, and the sacrifices a pastor’s family makes? In many churches, the pastor is not just the preacher, but also the accountant, janitor, chaplain, librarian and counselor.”
Today, will you take time to pray for your pastor? Will also shared other ways you can care for your pastor:
Watch this video about how Billy Graham’s ministry began.