Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’Amos 7:14-15 NIV
What qualified a person to be one of the prophets of God in the Old Testament? We know little about the background of most of them. But Amos is an exception. He shared his qualifications to serve God, along with his calling, with Amaziah, a priest of the golden calf worshipped at Bethel. Amaziah had taken exception to Amos’ prophesying at Bethel and had told him to peddle his message elsewhere. Amos responded to Amaziah that he was a shepherd and tender of sycamore-fig trees who God had commissioned to be a prophet.
Amos’ background is not necessarily one we might have thought would produce a prophet. He seemed to have had no theological training apart from what every Jewish boy of the day might have had. And, as a shepherd, he would have likely led a simple and somewhat solitary life. But the Lord took him from that life and sent him out as a prophet to deliver God’s message to the northern kingdom of Israel.
So what was Amos’ primary qualification to serve God as a prophet? He was obedient to God’s call. And I believe that is just as true for each of us today. Our willingness to obey his call in our lives qualifies us to serve the Lord. God will use our education and life experiences. But more important is a willing heart that will go where the Lord calls, trusting that he will enable us for the work he has given us.