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The Self-Examination of a Woman Called Into Ministry

By Judy Rachels, as told to Loralie Crabtree

Ministry can seem so glamorous. When women see me on the platform ministering, they can think, “Wow! That must be fun and exciting.” It’s easy to dream of being dressed up, traveling on airplanes, having people listen to you; but due diligence is required to arrive at the fruition of this kind of life.

Ministry is often unglamorous, risk-taking, and sometimes defies reasoning. As I often told my children, “You earn your right to be heard.” Sometimes young ministers want ministry fruition immediately, but anyone who does anything worthwhile must live a life of diligence and obedience. Before a woman proceeds into ministry, she must examine the state of her heart and mind.

When a woman asks me about stepping into ministry, I first encourage her to cope with what’s happening today and to make sense of her life right now in light of God’s Word. She must integrate the Scriptures into her present life with its troubles and challenges. We struggle sometimes with the application of God’s Word, but in grappling with difficulties, we rise above the challenges and issues we face. Actualizing scriptural principles in our lives can be difficult, but we must before we proceed into ministry.

I ask women who feel called into ministry, "Do you know what ministry means?" I make them tell me, "Service."

Make sure your perceived call into ministry is not merely an escape from your present life. Your reality is where you are today. When women ask me if they are called into the ministry, I don’t have a “King James” answer for them. I may ask if they have children at home. If so, then they are her ministries! I wish I would have been more satisfied with this answer in my younger years.

We can feel so honored the moment God calls us. It can be very emotional, and the call can be as valid as our response. But God may lead you into hidden years first, when no upfront, public platform ministry catapults you into the spotlight. These years are no mistake, no accident. God accomplishes His purposes in us during these times of anonymity.

When in prayer, you make a commitment to God to go into the ministry. The moment you stand up, you are living a life of ministry. You begin to think, behave, study, and budget that way. Your commitment affects your choices from that point on, not at some point in the distant future.

If you sense God’s call, start now by serving! Otherwise after you’ve been in the ministry awhile, you’ll feel stuck and disgruntled. I ask women who feel called into the ministry, “Do you know what ministry means?” I make them articulate what it means, and I make them tell me, Service.” If a more public personification of a ministry role comes from that, then it’s of God, but start by serving right where you are, right now.

As I interact with women who sense God’s call, I encourage some practical things:

  1. Journal. Write something from your soul, a paragraph or two of meaningful lines documenting your journey with God. What’s actually happening in your life right now and what does God’s Word say about that?

  2. Read good books, beyond the popular, latest fad, “junk” books that saturate the market. Read classics such as A.W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy, the writings of C.S. Lewis, and other great Christian classics.

  3. Study the basic tenets of our faith so you don’t make any doctrinal errors in your ministry. Journal on these as well, and make application to your own life and ministry.

The discipleship of a minister is crucial. A minister must spend hours on her knees in prayer, and in study of God’s Word. Anyone who is a bearer of the good news of Jesus must be diligent in these things.

Judy Rachels, a credentialed minister, is the director of Women’s Ministries for the churches of the Southern California District of the Assemblies of God. She is married to Ray Rachels, superintendent of the Southern California District Assemblies of God.