Review Essentials of Biblical Call

by Eddie Rasnake

In our series on calling a pastor, we have studied the process of David's call as king in 1 Samuel 16 and have drawn out the principles that guided that process. It is not the program that Samuel used, but the principles behind it that move us to a practical philosophy of calling church staff:

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Principle #1: We must come to an awareness of the need. In the call of David we see that though Samuel recognized things were not right in Israel, it was God who revealed the need for a new king. If a church is without a preaching pastor, the need is obvious. However, if because of growth they now need a children's pastor when before, they made do without one, that need may not be as obvious to everyone.

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Principle #2: We must identify the direction to look.  Once Samuel saw the need for a new king, it was again God who gave the direction to look.  He sent Samuel to the family of Jesse, the Bethlehemite. Today, those seeking a pastor should start by asking God to lay on their hearts a place to start looking. They should ask for sensitivity to people God brings across their path. They should look within their existing leadership. They should also look to trusted churches or ministries to ask for recommendations.

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Principle #3: We must look at candidates one at a time. Samuel didn't bring all of Jesse's sons together and try to pick the best one. If he had, he'd have picked Eliab, the oldest, and missed God's person. When you look at a group your focus is on finding the best or most qualified one. When you look at people one at a time, your focus is on asking God if this is the one.  One process keeps your eyes on the candidate, while the other keeps your eyes on God. To guard the integrity of this, you should not start looking at the next candidate until all are confident you have heard from God about the present one.

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Principle #4: We must make certain we are looking for the right things. Samuel almost picked the wrong person because he was focusing only on outward appearance and the present task. God was looking to the future potential. David was young, but he would grow into the role God had for him. What are the right things to look for? As we saw previously, we should look at the heart, we should look at the character, we should look at the person's family, and we should look at his previous ministries.

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Principle #5: We must recognize that it is God who calls, not the church.  Samuel knew that Israel would benefit from David's reign, but he recognized that David was called to serve God, not Israel. It was not Samuel, nor was it Israel who would call anyone. It was God who would call a king. Today we must remind ourselves that we are not calling anyone. We are merely affirming the call of God on a person's life and to a place of service. It was not logic that revealed David to Samuel as the man, it was the Lord.  Samuel's logic was impressed with the eldest son, Eliab, but the youngest son, David, was God's choice.

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Principle #6: We must not stop until we find God's choice. When Jesse was finished, Samuel wasn't. Jesse apparently had already written off David as being too young. If a church committee had been in charge of this process they might have been tempted to look at the seven candidates they had seen and settle for the best of the seven instead of looking for a David. No matter how long the process takes, you have to wait until you hear from God. You may not think you have time to keep looking, but if you get the wrong person, you'll have to make time to start looking again.

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Principle #7: Once we find God's choice, we must affirm him publicly. Once Samuel found the new king, God had him anoint David with oil "in the midst of his brothers." It is significant that it was not until he had been anointed by Samuel and publicly affirmed in his new position as king-to-be that "the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward" (1 Sam. 16:13). I believe this is an important principle. Once you have found God's choice, be willing to stand firmly behind him and support him publicly. He needs this and so does everyone else. Don't "waver and wonder." Trust what God has done through the process. This is another reason why unanimity is so important.

Conclusion

The most important aspect in the whole process of calling church staff is keeping our eyes on God. If we get our eyes on the candidate instead of on God, we are prone to making a mistake. We must do it God's way. If we do it the world's way, we likely won't end up with God's choice. We must continually remind ourselves of what we want. Do we want a Saul, or do we want a David?

Eddie Rasnake is associate pastor of Discipleship Ministries at Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn. Among other writings, he has authored or co-authored nearly all of the Following God series published by AMG Publishing in Chattanooga

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