This book is desperately needed by the Church. These days, it seems like anyone who wants to can be a pastor, start a church, and go about what he sees as Kingdom business, whether or not he's qualified, and whether or not he's called. Dave Harvey, a longtime church minister and leadership-trainer with a degree from Westminster Theological Seminary, exhorts would-be pastors to take a long hard look at themselves before entering the ministry.
Unlike most books on pastoral ministry, this one doesn't assume anything about its readers. Harvey wants church leaders to ask two questions of themselves: are they qualified, and are they called? He begins with the nature of pastoral calling, asserting that it is God, not the one being called, that is most essential. The Gospel is adequate to serve the people of God, but the pastor himself is not: only by God's grace does he succeed in his calling.
Harvey doesn't balk at asking really, really hard questions. Concerning pastoral qualifications, he asks those pursuing ministry if they're godly; if their homes are in order; if they're able to preach and to shepherd; and if they love the lost and have a passion for outreach and evangelism. Last of all, he asks if anyone agrees that you have the call, and he's not just talking about your wife or buddies—do other godly leaders agree that you're called to pastoral ministry, or is it just your own desire?
All these questions (and the many others Harvey asks throughout Am I Called?) are aimed directly at those wondering whether or not they're called to the full-time ministry. He doesn't just ask questions, though; he also offers sound advice, like encouraging men to find the right seminary, immerse themselves in the Word of God, and learn to be both hospitable and selfless in their service to others. He illustrates throughout with stories of great Christian pastors of the past, highlighting how they understood and responded to the call to pastoral ministry.
The last chapter is an encouragement to those waiting to see whether or not they're called. Harvey demonstrates a truly pastoral heart in his words to those pursuing ministry, but he tempers everything with realism: not all those who desire to serve are called, and not all those with the qualifications are able to serve. In the end, it is the Lord and not the minister who decides, and in this as in all else, Harvey encourages those who would minister to ceaselessly pursue their Savior.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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