In a recent blog post, James Emory White says, “Many people who want to preach, can't. Many who are, shouldn't. Many who consider themselves gifted, aren't.
“Many years ago I was invited by a large seminary to teach a course on preaching. Though I was much better suited to teach theology, apologetics, or matters related to the interplay of faith and culture, I accepted, particularly because the bent was going to be on evangelistic preaching, which I care deeply about.
“By the end of that course, I vowed never to teach that subject again. Why? It was, without a doubt, the most frustrating teaching experience of my life. What I learned was that some in the class were gifted for preaching/teaching, and some were not; but all were convinced they were.”
So how do you know if preaching is your calling? White offers several points of counsel:
1. Have someone other than your spouse tell you that you are a gifted communicator. Lots of someones.
2. Be able to point to disproportionate fruit that comes as a result of your preaching/teaching. In other words, the Holy Spirit obviously anointed it.
3. Do a very careful, very honest gut-check as to how much of your call is tied up with wanting or needing the ego/insecurity strokes of a captive audience.
4. Do not overlook the foundational principle that when the Holy Spirit calls, He equips. If He has not clearly equipped you for the task of preaching/teaching, then you should question the calling. In other words, don't confuse the desire to do something with the calling to do something.
5. Don't assume the only way to answer the call to preach or teach is through a senior pastor position or through a large group. Your gift might be better suited for a small group, a classroom, a seminar, one-on-one mentoring, student ministry, children's ministry, adult education…The list is quite long.
6. If your gift is preaching and teaching, it didn't arrive fully matured upon arrival. As Paul instructed Timothy, gifts need to be developed. Being called, even gifted, to preach only means you have a lot of work ahead of you to develop that gift optimally.
Having said all of this, if you are called to the ministry of communication, then pursue it with all your energy. The world needs you, but if not—and be ruthless in your self-examination on this one—then the world needs you more where you are gifted.” (Read the full article.)