“LISTEN! The Lord is calling!”

This guest post is written by Ka’thy Gore Chappell.  Kathy is the Leadership Development Coordinator with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of NC as well as a certified coach with Chappell Coaching & Consulting. As an ordained minister, Kathy has served in congregational ministry for 30 years, a Baptist seminary as associate dean for 7 years and a denomi-network in leadership development for 6 years.  Her passion is ministry with students–youth, college students and divinity students; therefore, Kathy seeks to “create space” for students to build relationships and explore their call in life as a Christ-follower.

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread…the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’…Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore, Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’” I Samuel

What is the message in this Old Testament scripture?   How about LISTEN for God’s call?

Over a decade ago, I served with a group of staff and faculty who spent an inspiring week at Wingate University with 45+ high school youth who were intent on listening for God’s call. What was called ECHO Camp is now in the past. Since those camp years, I have had the opportunity to observe Echo campers go to college, divinity school and then, embrace congregational ministry or other forms of Christian service (i.e., “doing justice & showing mercy”).

As a faculty member for two consecutive summers of ECHO Camp, I observed the development of God’s call in the lives of these students as each sought to LISTEN for God’s call in specific ways. At the time, we deemed these camps successful but we really did not know what the future would look like for these students (or how youth would respond to God’s call). Today, when I celebrate the time-measured results, the call process seemed quick and easy. Actually, the process was lengthy and required theological education, ministerial experience and personal/professional nurture. Yes, God calls people of all ages and the process of development demands an investment of time and energy and requires the willingness to exhibit flexibility based on personal and/or church context and of course, the culture.

From a personal call experience, I believe God first began calling me to ministry as a seven year old attending Vacation Bible School. My teacher, a young seminary student from my home church, communicated God’s love to me in such a special way (with personal attention and a keen sense of humor) that I remember thinking “I want to be like her!”—which meant seminary and youth ministry. My experience was that God’s call to ministry began with me that day—with this young woman who served as my summer VBS teacher and as God’s “messenger.”

During 40+ years of ministry, I have served with youth, college students divinity students, congregations, divinity schools and denominational networks. I have experienced and discovered that God calls youth and people of all ages through teachers, church leaders, friends, God’s Word, music, worship, missions, activities, camps and more. Our mandate is to LISTEN! The Lord is calling. Amen.