Preaching, as Menno Simons puts it, is a “high and holy office” and thus not to be entered casually or cavalierly. Who, then, should dare enter the pastorate? The well-educated? The well-spoken? The well-favored?

Simons (c.1496–1561), the radical leader of a Dutch Anabaptist group that preached nonviolence and withdrawal from the world, argued on the basis of Saul’s conversion that the most necessary ingredient for fruitful ministry is the call of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual. While some ministers may seem appropriately eloquent and skilled, without the beckoning of the Lord their work will be fruitless and their efforts wasted.

Unless Ministers Are Called by God, All They Do Is Vain

All those who are not so sent by God or by an unblamable Christian church after the regulations of Christ and the apostles, . . . those who are not called by the Holy Spirit, by the pure, unfeigned love of God and their brothers and with the true and genuine confession and zeal for the divine Word, but seeking people’s favor, praise, money and profit, a soft and easy life: these will never gather fruit in the vineyard of the Lord, no matter how eloquent they may be, how esteemed and equipped.

All that they attempt is wasted effort. They will rise too early or go out too late; their harangue is without power; their service is vain, their labor without fruit, yes, it is nothing but sowing by the seashore and reaping the wind. For no one can serve in this high and holy office conformable to God’s will, except the one whom the Lord of the vineyard has made capable by the Spirit of his grace.

Acts, eds. Esther Chung-Kim and Todd R. Hains, Reformation Commentary on Scripture, NT Vol. VI, pp. 121-122.