- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Crossway (March 31, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1433527480
- ISBN-13: 978-1433527487
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Am I Called?: The Summons to Pastoral Ministry Paperback – March 31, 2012
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“This is the fullest, most realistic, down-to-earth, and genuinely spiritual exploration of God’s call to pastoral ministry that I know. I recommend it most highly.”
―J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College
“Every generation needs a fresh army of gospel men with a sense of destiny in their hearts. They aren’t looking for a job. They are following a call. God is setting them apart to pastoral service. Are you one of those men? Dave Harvey’s wise book will help you answer that question.”
―Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee
“Discerning God’s call with clarity is an ongoing challenge, but a necessary journey. Dave Harvey has written one of the most helpful, practical books on Christian calling that I’ve read. Am I Called? guides a wide range of readers, not just pastors, through God’s call to ministry in their lives. I know I will be sharing Am I Called? with many in the years to come.”
―Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College
“As a young man, I wrestled with the issue Dave Harvey wisely and skillfully addresses in this book. I’m glad a generation of young men can find in these pages the help that I was looking for thirty years ago.”
―Bob Lepine, Cohost, FamilyLife Today; Pastor, Redeemer Community Church, Little Rock, Arkansas
“The issue of the call to pastoral ministry is a complicated one, involving matters of character, technical ability, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this book, Dave Harvey offers a good overview of the things that anyone contemplating the ministry needs to consider. In an accessible, conversational style, Dave guides the reader through the biblical teaching on this matter―carefully balancing the external and the internal aspects of the call. He also provides apposite anecdotes from church history to illustrate his points. Full of wisdom and wit, Am I Called? is a delightful and challenging book for potential ministers, their wives, and, indeed, those already in the ministry to read. Highly commended.”
―Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College
“The history of the church is marked and marred by the ‘ministries’ of unqualified men. The reason I am glad to recommend Am I Called? is that Dave Harvey sets the call to pastoral ministry in the biblical context: the calling from God and the calling from and to a local church. May God use this book to raise up a whole new generation of men who are called, equipped, and competent for the work he (and we) have called them to.”
―Tim Challies, blogger, Challies.com
“My appreciation for this book is matched only by a sense of frustration that it wasn’t around when I was considering my call to pastoral ministry. Dave Harvey manages to explain and insist upon the biblical qualifications for pastors without being discouraging or legalistic. Most importantly, the good news about Jesus is the heartbeat of this clear and engaging book. If you are considering entering into pastoral ministry, Am I Called? will act as a faithful mirror and friend. If you are already a pastor, it will renew your passion for raising up the next generation of ministers.”
―Mike McKinley, Pastor, Sterling Park Baptist Church; author, Church in Hard Places; Am I Really a Christian?; and Church Planting Is for Wimps
“According to the Apostle Paul, faithful gospel ministry must include entrusting that ministry to others who will carry it on. Am I Called? will be of immense help to both those wondering whether they are called into gospel ministry, and to the pastors in position to help them figure that out. I know of no other book that does the important, practical work this book gets done and does so well. Am I Called? is marked by both wise, practical insight and a strong gospel vibrancy. I will be putting this book to regular use with young men at my church, and I’m glad to be able to highly recommend it.”
―Mike Bullmore, Senior Pastor, CrossWay Community Church, Bristol, Wisconsin
About the Author
Dave Harvey (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the teaching pastor at Summit Church in Naples, Florida. Dave has over 25 years of pastoral experience and has traveled nationally and internationally teaching Christians, equipping pastors, and training church planters. He is the executive director of Sojourn Network, founder of AmICalled.com, and serves on the board of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). Dave is the author of Am I Called?, Rescuing Ambition, and When Sinners Say I Do, as well as a contributing author to Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World.
Matt Chandler (BA, Hardin-Simmons University) serves as lead pastor of teaching at the Village Church in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Acts 29 Network. He lives in Texas with his wife, Lauren, and their three children.
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Dave's book is accessible: easy to read, easy to absorb, easy to apply. There's no question in my mind that he has lived where I'm living right now and come through the other side. At times, his probing questions and observations "stuck" me, and I winced internally in response to some of his plain, practical wisdom about what can be an often-times subjective call. At other times, I found my spirit shouting, "Yes! YES!" in agreement with his descriptions of what a call to ministry can be.
If you're "feeling a call," think you "might maybe feeling a call," or heard an audible verse from God this morning that said, "Hey, you. Yeah, you. I'm calling you to full-time ministry right now. You start in one hour," then you need to read this book.
It will settle some things.
It will give you some hope.
You'll be glad you did.
Overall this was a great read on my journey to answer my call to ministry. There is much more I have to do but this book was a great starting point. It is a short read and written in a conversational manner that keeps your attention. I recommend it to anyone at any point of their journey into pastoral ministry.
An important point to add, as Harvey clearly spells out, is that this book is for men and the wife's of men who are called to ministry. The pastoral calling is meant for men. This is an important point to make. This view will not be defended here nor is it really defended in Harvey's book, but this view is assumed by the writer and this blogger.
In this review, I would like to share three important takeaways that I received from Harvey's study and work on ministry calling.
I immediately loved how Dave addressed how everyone is called to God first. "If we're truly to understand the importance of calling in ministry, we need to grasp that the impetus for it originates with a wise, loving, and sovereign God. And before he calls us to ministry, he calls us to himself." Harvey deftly shares that the focus of a calling is not on the called but on the caller. "The caller's initiative is everything...The call to ministry is about God's character and activity, about his mercy and love, and ultimately about his provision to those for whom he died. If the Caller's initiative is everything, then we must preoccupy ourselves with the Ultimate Caller. It's that simple--and that profound."
Ultimately, when we are considering a calling, Harvey challenges us to consider who is really the focus. "Seems like we've got two options. We can imagine it makes much of us: God called me! Or we can see it as making much of God: God called me!" This is the first treasure that I took from Harvey's expose on a biblical calling to ministry.
This friendly reminder is so important for those of us who are in ministry or are considering ministry, because it puts our focus on being God's instrument. God becomes the primary actor in our ministry. He steals the show. The called person finds his right place as the instrument towards God's glory. We need this reminder, because men in ministry can be prone to steal God's credit, build our own kingdoms, and center our desires and work on self.
Another valuable message throughout Am I Called is the focus and the centrality of the gospel. Harvey goes out of his way to emphasize how much the called person needs to have a fixation on the gospel. Harvey points out, "...those called to preach the gospel can be the most susceptible to drift from the gospel." He goes on to talk about how all the other parts of ministry can distract us from the heart of ministry, yet our identity is built on the truths within the gospel. Harvey argues that it is critical to stand fast to gospel truth, since our identity is built on its truth. Concerning our identity in the gospel he concludes, "That's why I need to keep my grip on the gospel. It supplies my main identity."
Fixation on the gospel as one who is called is essential because it is the anchor for all of ministry. The called man's primary responsibility is to bear the same message that Paul bore to the nations. Harvey writes, "Pastoral ministry exists for the proclamation and protection of the gospel for people inside and outside the church. We need to value the gospel and know what we have so we can share it with others."
These reminders are welcoming for both those have been in ministry for years, those who are getting started, and those who are testing the waters to see if they are a fit for ministry. Each of us need this reminder that the gospel is everything, not building projects, not program structures, not building a large congregation, not keeping people happy, or making sure everyone feels loved, though all these components are valuable, the gospel possesses immeasurable importance and value to the person called to ministry.
The third precious truth that I would like to share is that the called man needs to consider the importance of his character. Harvey explains that God did not give us the qualification of an elder in 1 Timothy and Titus as a check list to eliminate people from a ministry calling. Harvey clearly communicates how all of us are in process and none of us perfectly measure to the standards of these qualification. He says, "Keep in mind, we'll never see these qualities perfected in anyone. But while not perfected, they should be evident, and will be in any man who's called to ministry."
However, we must have aspirations not only to the position but to the character of those who fill the position. Not only this but just because we are gifted and skilled at managing and leading does not make us qualified either. Nor are we qualified because we fulfill a moralistic adherence to these character qualities. Every one who tries to do this, will assuredly fail. Rather evidence of God's grace is critical as we think about the qualifications of an elder. Harvey says, "Men don't become pastors because of potential. They become pastors because God's grace is already at work in them...God's grace produces a godly life--and that godly life helps confirm God's call."
Harvey ties my second observation that I appreciate in this book with this third observation. He ties the character qualification of a calling to the gospel saying, "Here again we see that the gospel must be the orienting reality of our lives. If a man doesn't have the gospel right and square when he enters ministry, his trials and temptations can overturn everything."
How Harvey tackles the matter of character qualification is so insightful. Though he does not bring up this scripture, I could not help but note that 1 Timothy 3 ends with a valuable hymn that shows how Christ is our source of godliness. Without finding our identity in Christ, being rooted in his grace and fixated on His gospel, we will fail in both adhering to the character qualities of an elder and ultimately our calling to ministry.
Harvey has brought attention to an important matter that we need to keep on our radar. We who are called need to keep our eyes open for other who might also be called. We need to be looking for people who love the gospel, have clear gifting for ministry, and have apprehended the grace of God which informs their own spiritual living.
This book is now my go-to resource when I talk to men who are considering a call to ministry. I think if you are a pastor, you ought to read this book and reflect on how you can serve God by seeking out and equipping called men to ministry. In addition, every guy considering ministry ought to read this book and so should elder boards, pastoral staff or committees who are involved in the hiring process for pastors.
Check out am I called today!
View more book reviews by Joey Cochran at jtcochran.com.
Am I Called?: The Summons to Pastoral Ministry