It’s a question that has vexed many a young man — including me — over the years. But I think I can answer that question for you right now:
There. Feel better? I hope so.
What do we mean when we ask a question like that? Presumably this: Am I called to give my life to vocational ministry of some sort? I say for every believer the answer to that question is yes.
Every vocation (that is, every job or career) is to be a Christian vocation – pursued for the glory of God, fitting within a fully-orbed worldview, and as living as light in a dark world. These aren’t just platitudes — it’s the calling of every Christian.
What I can’t answer, of course, is what that looks like in your life. But I feel certain that every believer is called to be engaged in the ministry of the Gospel — growing in Christ, proclaiming Him, serving the Church, counseling and encouraging those who struggle, gently confronting sin, and that sort of thing.
As to the question of — “Am I called to full-time vocational/paid leadership in a church?” — I’d suggest that maybe it’s a little hard for a young man in his teens or twenties to really answer that question.
Can God call such people? Sure. But I wonder if there’s a better way to look at this whole concept.
My suggestion to young men asking this question is to go to school and major in something other than Bible. Pursue a profession or trade of some sort, start a career, and begin to build a life. Be involved in the leadership of your church where there’s a need and an interest. Serve humbly and well. Pursue mentors and read a lot.
Over time, if God is calling you into the full-time-ministry role, He’ll make that known — to you and to others. When the time is right, you can make that leap. But don’t assume the time will be right when you’re 22 or 32 or whatever. That’s not necessarily up to you. (I mean, after all, the term “elder” is not often applied to man in his 20s, right? It can be… but perhaps not as much as we think).
So I suggest that much of the hand-wringing and naval-gazing about this is overdone. We should also consider the role selfish ambition can play in this wrestling — or the faulty worldview that believes in the silly sacred/secular dichotomy (the pastor/laity nonsense). Or this idea that to really live out a Christian vocation in the world, you have to do it for a living.
There’s more to say but for now let’s leave it here:
Yes you’re called — but don’t get too bogged down in the details right now. The Caller will make everything clear at the right time, so just relax and live your life.