Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead, and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
How do you best communicate with others? Do you prefer using FaceTime, talking face-to-face, or being faceless over email? No matter which you prefer, the word call describes how we send and receive messages.
Calling in Christian leadership is similar. No matter how God communicates—either through His Word, circumstances, or through the confirmation of others—ministry leaders often talk about God’s calling on their life to a particular work.
To understand calling more clearly, one can observe the life of Jeremiah, one of the major prophets in the Old Testament. The Book of Jeremiah is the longest book of the Bible (not in chapters, but in words), and it is full of insight into the personal life of this “weeping prophet” who experienced emotional distress going from one difficult task to another, often enduring persecution. Even the meaning of Jeremiah’s name is a bit uncertain, but some propose it means “the Lord throws”—as in being thrown into a hostile culture. His purpose? To call the people of Judah back to a dependence on the Lord. He was the voice of warning regarding the future exile they would experience from the Babylonians. No biggie—just forewarn God’s people of future doom. Anyone else want that assignment?
As a leader, maybe you’ve sensed God calling you to a specific assignment. Maybe you’ve struggled with what “calling” means. If that is you, here’s some insight you can learn from the major prophet Jeremiah.
First, recognize God has created you for a specific purpose. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” This is similar to Paul’s calling in Galatians 1:15-16, which says, “But when God, who from my mother’s womb set me apart and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me, so that I could preach him among the Gentiles…” Jeremiah was chosen. He was set apart. He was appointed as a prophet—a position. He was appointed to a place—the nations. The word chosen in Hebrew is yada` which means to know in an intimate, personal way. You, too, were formed and created for God’s good works and for His glory. We are first called to follow Christ and called into a relationship with Him. As part of God’s creative process, you were formed with purpose—a calling first to Him.
Second, every believer has the universal calling to minister to others and serve Christ. Jeremiah was always conscious of his calling, but proclaimed the words he received directly from God, not himself. Ephesians 4:1 says, “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received.” God has called you to a life of sanctification—a big word for being set apart—a calling to live differently from the world and a calling to live more like Christ each day. Every believer has the universal calling to serve and to minister within the body of Christ and to a world that desperately needs the gospel. This may mean you aren’t called to a vocation of ministry, but to live as a Christian within your vocation. If you are a doctor, you are called to live as a Christian doctor. If you are a mother, you are called to live as a Christian mother. If you are a graphic designer, you are called to live as a Christian graphic designer. See the difference?
Third, some believers have a specific ministry leadership calling and assignment. Some of these may develop into vocational ministry positions, and some may be servant leadership positions within the church body. Jeff Iorg, author of Is God Calling Me? defines this calling, saying, “A call is a profound impression from God that establishes parameters for your life and can be altered only by a subsequent, superseding impression from God.” In other words, a few leaders will have a direct calling to a specific place and a specific assignment. These may change, but they are directive and unique. Jeremiah’s calling and assignment lasted forty years. Even though the book shows glimpses of him struggling with God over his task, he served faithfully with the message he was sent to deliver. If God is calling you to a specific ministry assignment, remember your first calling is to Him and Him alone. Seek the confirmation through God’s Word for a specific calling or ministry assignment. Get affirmation from godly leaders who support this calling on your life. Don’t force situations or assignments to happen. Allow the Lord to open the doors to specific leadership assignments and be faithful to walk through them.
 Jeff Iorg, Is God Calling Me?, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, 2008, page 8.
Are you ready to lead well? Get training at events like YOU Lead around the country and Women’s Leadership Forum this November in Nashville, TN.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Women. She and her husband, Vic, have been married for more than 28 years and have enjoyed serving together in ministry both teaching in student ministry for 25 years and teaching young married adults. They have two young adult children, Conner and Courtney, and a son-in-law, Gaige. They enjoy kayaking, having people in their home, and cheering for the Oklahoma City Thunder. A good day includes mocha lattes, Mexican food, and shopping for bargains.