How to Know If God Is Calling Us to Be Forerunners?

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Simply put, a forerunner is a cultural influencer who serves an essential role in God’s redemptive purposes. Perhaps America’s most renown forerunner is Abraham Lincoln. Nearly two and a half centuries after the pilgrims established a community of believers to be “a city on a hill” that would reflect God’s glory to the nations of the world (Matt. 5:14, NLT), President Lincoln understood how far America had departed from the vision of our forebearers. Moreover, he recognized the Civil War as God’s divine judgment upon our nation:

Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”[1]

Two years into the war, President Lincoln served as a forerunner to our divided nation when he proclaimed April 30, 1863 as a national day of fasting and prayer. Lincoln’s bold words were similar in tone to the Old Testament prophets who called the people to repentance:

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.[2]

The Civil War accrued more American deaths than any other war before or since. If ever there was a time for a forerunner to present a national message, this was it. Fortunately, Lincoln rose to the occasion and encouraged the nation to honestly evaluate itself and to seek God for mercy. He may not have called himself a forerunner, but he certainly understood the day and hour in which he was living, and he answered God’s call upon his heart to warn the people and to help them respond in faith by setting aside a specific day to repent, fast, and pray.

Likewise, do we, today, recognize how far our nation has veered away from its original goal of serving as a city on a hill that reflects God’s glory to the nations of the world, drawing the hearts of people back to God? Do we understand the national consequences of our waywardness? Are we capable of recognizing God’s judgment? Do we have a message of hope for others? In short, can we discern the day and hour in which we are living? And do we know enough to guide others into God’s redemptive purpose for America in times of blessing and in times of difficulty? If so then God is likely calling us to serve as His forerunners. (To unpack each of these points in detail, read our free book Heart of a Forerunner: How to Be a Relevant and Influential Voice in a Wayward Nation.)

God is calling forerunners to serve Him today. For many of us, our fervent heart-cry is to live relevant and influential lives that produce both immediate and eternal fruit. Those of us who feel this way may be sensing God’s call upon our lives to serve as His forerunners.

This article comes from Heart of a Forerunner: How to Be a Relevant and Influential Voice in a Wayward Nation

Heart of a Forerunner

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Abraham Lincoln, “Second Inaugural Address,” Speech, Abraham Lincoln Online, [March 4, 1865], Accessed July 29, 2022,

2. Abraham Lincoln, “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day,” Speech, Abraham Lincoln Online, [March 30, 1863], Accessed July 29, 2022.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.