This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work (1 Timothy 3:1).
In an article titled, "Consider Your Calling: The Call to the Ministry," Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. explains in the words of Charles Spurgeon, "The first sign of God's call to the ministry is 'an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.'" Mohler also states that there is an increasing "'compulsion' to preach and teach the Word, and to minister... "by those who are called. In 1 Corinthians 9:16, Paul confesses, "...for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!"
G. Campbell Morgan explains that the call must come from the Spirit for a man to be able to go. He refers to this as the "high doctrine of the ministry" that neither institutions nor the Church can produce. "Unless he hear that call sounding in his soul, ringing like a trumpet night and day, giving him no rest until he is compelled to say, 'Woe is me if I preach not'...."
There is an all consuming desire to preach the Word. For example, Jim, a man in his mid-forties, suddenly develops a deep hunger and thirst for the Word of God. He invariably feels compelled to share what he is learning with others. As he shares with the tenacity of a forceful preacher, it is obvious that God is placing the desire for preaching within him and he may not even recognize it as God's calling.
Occasionally, the desire to preach comes much earlier in life. For example, a young boy who has recently been born again has begun to imitate the preacher in the way he dresses and walks around the church. He suddenly has the desire to memorize Bible verses and quote them in public. Although this might not always indicate the desire to preach, it certainly can be the beginning of the Holy Spirit preparing him and should be taken just as seriously as the adult.
Dr. Ken Blue shares how he came to know that he was called to preach. Blue confessed that initially he wrestled with the call at first, but doors opened in the church to serve the Lord. He was asked to teach a boys' Sunday school class which he loved. Then the pastor asked him to join a Monday night Bible doctrine class and he loved it, too. He shared that with each opportunity he accepted to serve the Lord the greater the desire grew. As preaching opportunities came his way at a rescue mission, he accepted and loved it. He still prayed that the Lord would stop him from going to Bible college or into the ministry if He was not calling him. In spite of praying this way, the desire continued to grow. Even though Blue worked with Boeing for seven years and enjoyed his work, he felt a growing dissatisfaction with his job. He experienced an increasing desire to serve the Lord all the time. In 1969, he moved to the Seattle area and started Open Door Baptist Church. Over 31 years later, Dr. Blue emphatically declares, "Preaching, teaching, and soul winning has been the heart of my ministry. I love it and there isn't anything in this world I would rather do."
In a McCall's magazine interview in the early 1960's, Billy Graham was asked, "How does one know God's call?" He responded with the question, "How do you know you are in love?" One of Graham's friends reportedly said, "God became his only passion." To which biographer Marshall Frady concludes, "That, indeed, seems to have been the transfer."
In accepting God's call to preach there must initially be a desire to preach even if the desire is very small. Wayne A.Detzler writes, "Often I have seen a young man pressed to preach. Reluctantly, he takes his first assignment and suffers greatly through it. Soon however, if the call of God is on him, he would rather preach than do anything else in the world. Preaching becomes his passion!"
David W. Cloud states, "One of the greatest problems in churches today is leaders who have not been called of God!" They are like those referred to in Jeremiah 23:32 where God says, "I sent them not, neither commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord." Those who are called by parental instruction or mere personal interest will not have the same concern for the things of the ministry as those who are called by God. When a man is truly called by God the confession of Jeremiah can adequately describe his feelings. "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forebearing, and I could not stay" (Jeremiah 20:9). Those called to preach will possess an inextinguishable desire to proclaim the unsearchable riches of the Word of God.
Quite often when one is initially called to preach he can honestly confess with the apostle Paul, "...who is sufficient for these things?" (2 Corinthians 2:16), or question with Moses, "Who am I?" (Exodus 3:11), or doubt with Gideon that God could be calling him (Judges 6:36-40). Just because a man has apprehensions about his calling does not mean that he totally lacks a desire to fulfill that assignment. The intensity of desire may fluctuate. However, there will come a time as Charles Bridges explains, "the work is more desirable than the highest earthly honours; so that, even under the most desponding anticipations it cannot be relinquished."
—Sound Biblical Preaching