Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why am I a Pastor?

Why am I a pastor? The simple answer is that God has called me to be a pastor. But there is so much more to it than that. I first felt God's call to ministry back in 1975. At that time I was a 15 year old high school student. I had every intention of spending the rest of my life serving God in the Youth Ministry.

I went to Bible College and graduated with a double major in Bible and Christian Education. I had served two churches while in school as a week-end Youth Minister and after graduation began working full-time as a Youth Minister. I loved the youth ministry and was blessed by God with the ability to grow the youth groups at every place I served. Unfortunately, I was too immature to see that I was doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. It was all about ME. I felt that I was the reason that everything was going so well. I was a great Youth Minister. I this and I that. I had a BIG "I" problem and didn't even realize it!

The Lord was able to use me for years (even though I had the "I" problem) until I finally was totally lost in the ministry. I worked hard. I put in way too many hours. I had to, because results were what gave me "worth" in my eyes. I finally lost my first marriage because of this "I" problem.

I have to admit, when my first marriage ended, I was convinced that I would never be a Pastor again. I moved to Oklahoma and began attending a Presbyterian Church. While attending this congregation, I was invited to and attended a "Cursillo" weekend. It was here that I experienced God's grace for the first time. I had taught and preached about grace. I knew (intellectually) what grace was. But it was here that I truly experienced grace.

My life changed. I became content to be the best "member" that I could be. I taught Sunday School with my wife. I became a Deacon and later an Elder in that congregation. Still, I never really thought I would be a pastor again.

God is great and He has a wonderful sense of humor. God led me first to Sterling College and the Lay Academy with my wife. She will tell you that I only went on her behalf and not because I felt I needed to go. She was right. That IS how I felt! I had spent 20 plus years in ministry, why should I have to do this to be able to preach in a Presbyterian church? Well, God was beginning a long process of healing with me, that's why!

God arranged for a new job for me in New Jersey and had that job pay for my cross country move. Then within 9 months, I was forced to choose between my integrity and my job. There was really never a choice. I didn't realize it at the time, but God was simply getting me close to Princeton Theological Seminary so that I could attend there!

I was given the opportunity to serve a small congregation while I was in Seminary (actually I started there about a year before I entered Seminary and continued serving there for a year after I graduated). I enjoyed my work outside of the ministry to a certain extent, but it was when I began to pastor again that I realized that the call from God back in 1975 was still valid. I tried to do other things, but God kept pushing me back into the ministry!

I now realize how shallow I was in my first go round in the ministry. It was all about me and not all about God. God has allowed me to grow into the minister that he requires and has blessed me with a wonderful wife who both supports me and my ministry. In fact, she is preparing herself for a specialized ministry of her own in Pastoral Counseling. I look forward to the day when I can refer my counseling load over to her!

So, why am I a Pastor? Because God has called me to be one and I want to do my best for Him. Results are no longer my concern. Faithfulness is! So, if you are called to be a pastor, don't fight it, but if you are not called, don't do it! God has called each of us to ministry whether it is as a car mechanic, Walmart greeter, or Pastor. Just make sure you know which one you are called to be!

1 comment:

Rosella said...

Bless you. That is a nice statement and I hope you won't mind if I use it as we try to instruct people on the importance of understanding 'calls' when they are on PNC's.