instantly erect a sign that reads “Steve’s Church. Worship is 9:30 a.m. on Sundays” in front of an abandoned gas station. No, we take our call process so seriously that the internal call from God must be matched by evidence of external calls—especially from those who know our hearts and minds perhaps better than we know them ourselves. So, just as the pastor before him had done, my

current pastor said, “Why aren’t you in the ministry yet?” This time I figured that God had given me a second external call. The guilty half-smile was my face’s way of expressing to God, “OK, Lord, I’m finally listening.” No doubt, your call to ordained ministry

will come in a fashion different from mine. But ultimately, you must possess—or be willing to learn—the following: comfort around people, privately and in large groups; willingness to face the fact that you have flaws, and willingness to address and learn from them; and, most important, desire to be changed by God into someone who hungers and thirsts to proclaim the word and preside over the sacraments. You may be in the discernment process right

now. Pray. Invite others into prayer on your behalf. Talk and listen to your pastor. Make sure you have shared your inklings with your significant other, for the ministry will change their life too. Then step back and let God provide you with the peace that comes from true revelation—whether you are called or not. To God be the glory for all God has done.

were different for Moses and for Paul, in both cases the very voice of God was present. For me, God’s voice came through the

invitational words of a young man who loves Jesus so much—who loves me so much—that he was compelled by God to present me with an invitation away from my career and into ordained ministry. The invitation was genuine, for my pastor

knew my story. I guess I’ve always known that I have been gifted by God to care for others. I just needed time to mature. I learned that caring about people was not enough. If I was being called to the ordained ministry, then I needed to be called to word and sacrament. The call needed to involve my understanding

and acceptance that I must hunger and thirst to proclaim that living into the faith given to us through the Spirit in our baptism is the only way to live. I must admit, this maturation took time. As Lutherans, we don’t just wake up one day and, believing we have been moved by the Spirit,

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s Leadership Initiative encourages all of us to seek out and inspire gifted people in our congregations and communities to consider a call to the ministry of the gospel. For more information, see

Steve Hilgeman is in his first call as pastor of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Savannah, Ga.


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