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1 – Bible: Is the person qualified biblically? What does the Bible say? Are there any explicit prohibitions regarding the individual and what they want to do?
2 – History: What has the person been doing in the past? Do they have a historical record that naturally flows into this next step of ministry? E.g., a person who wants to be a formalized counselor has been counseling already in several informal contexts.
3 – Desire: A burden for a position does not mean God is calling the individual to that thing. Often, folks will sense a burden to do something that they are not good at doing. This mistake happens in counseling regularly.
E.g., a person could go through a horrific event like divorce and then dedicate their lives to helping those who are going through marriage problems. And though this can appear to be right on the surface, they are not good at the role they have chosen for themselves.
Fundamental Idea: “A burden for something does not mean God has called you to it.”
4 – Calling: This concept is subjective at best, which is why any person who “feels called” must submit their “feeling” to more objective analysis—get accurate feedback. Two ways to do this is by examining the internal and external call.
Internal Call — What do you believe God is “calling” you to do? And then you begin examining the person from the character, capacity, and competence areas, per the graphic on this page.
External Call — The individual should have a “gathering ability” around the thing that he (or she) is good at doing. Jesus was a great teacher and folks “gathered” around Him.
Some counselors are very good at counseling and folks “gather” around them. There are good writers, which you can affirm by folks “gathering” around to read their resources. There are good preachers, which is affirmed by “gathering” crowds.
5 – Pragmatism: Is the church guarding against the temptation to fill a slot even though the person is not the best fit for the position. Sometimes in a church’s desperation to get things done, they will promote anyone with a burden to do the job.
It is easier never to put a person in a position than to have to fire him—after you promoted him—because he has failed at the task.
It is easier to never promote a person for a role than it is to promote them only to realize you have to fire them later. As hard as it may be to say “no” by not promoting them, it’s much more comfortable than cleaning up a mess because you put them in a position to fail.
6 – Feedback: Many Christians are scared (fear of man) to be totally honest with a person who is trying to establish themselves in a ministry position. The observer is afraid of hurting the person’s feeling (or they fear blow-back), so they won’t tell the person the truth.
Having good friends who are willing to “speak the truth in love” to a person trying to discern their “calling” is rare.
7 – Assessment: Character, Capacity, Competence
Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).