Charles Spurgeon, in his Lectures to My Students, gives the strong words below about men who feel called to preach. In my experience, churches spend too little time addressing/evaluating this issue when calling out potential pastors.
In the second place, combined with the earnest desire to become a pastor, there must be aptness to teach and some measure of the other qualities needful for the office of a public instructor. A man to prove his call must make a successful trial of these. I do not claim that the first time a man rises to speak he must preach as well as Robert Hall did in his later days. If he preaches no worse than that great man did at the first, he must not be condemned. You are aware that Robert Hall broke down altogether three times, and cried, “If this does not humble me nothing will.” Some of the noblest speakers were not in their early days the most fluent. Even Cicero at first suffered from a weak voice and a difficulty of utterance.
Still, a man must not consider that he is called to preach until he has proved that he can speak. God certainly has not created behemoth to fly; and should leviathan have a strong desire to ascend with the lark, it would evidently be an unwise aspiration, since he is not furnished with wings. If a man be called to preach, he will be endowed with a degree of speaking ability, which he will cultivate and increase. If the gift of utterance be not there in a measure at the first, it is not likely that it will ever be developed.
What do these words say to today’s church?
- We must give teaching opportunities to those who sense some kind of calling from God. Those opportunities might not always be the pulpit on Sunday morning, but we can still find teaching options. And, the young minister who’s unwilling to teach unless he’s in front of the largest crowd may have just disproven his calling.
- We must be honest, loving, supportive critics of those we invite to preach. If a pastor is to be “able to teach” (1 Tim 3:2), we must help potential preachers develop that gift. If that patient development convinces us that a brother lacks ability to teach, we must be honest with him.
- We must be willing to challenge those members who are, in fact, “apt to teach.” Some of them may have not yet thought about a call to preach, and others may have been unwilling to admit their sense of calling yet. Simply challenging them to consider a call to ministry—based on their lifestyle and their teaching–may provide an open door for them to be honest.
- We must not limit our expectations of potential pastors to their preaching ability. More than one scholar has pointed out that the characteristics of elders listed in 1 Timothy 3 are primarily about character. We simply can’t ignore this issue as we call out young pastors.
What are your thoughts on this topic?
 Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students (pp. 28-29). Kindle Edition.