I have found that living out my call to be a pastor has seen some adversity along the way. Interestingly enough, the responses closely parallel some responses to the fact that I am a Christian. Adversity surrounding our relationship with Christ is not just a call thing.
My call to ministry was simple. I ran from it until a freshman in college. One Sunday evening, I brought a professor to our evening service. My pastor handed me a sheet of paper with some hymns on it, and said, “Billy, you conduct the service. He’s your professor and guest.” Since I had never conducted a service before, I panicked and said I couldn’t. He said, “Yes you can”, sat on the back row with arms folded, smiling at me. Not wanting to be an embarrassment, I dutifully took my place behind the pulpit beside my professor, and prayed for the prelude to last forever. It didn’t. As I walked to the pulpit to start the service, something resonated deep within me and I had the sensation of a hand, sliding into a fitted glove. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt this was what God wanted me to do. I silently said yes, and with knees trembling, I stumbled through the rest of the service.
My family was thrilled. My congregation was elated. Kudos all around. Then, my first adverse moment. As I was interviewed by my District Committee on Ministry, I shared this story of my call. To me it was pretty simple and straight forward. I discovered later, that one of the members of the committee thought I was self righteous, holier than though, and arrogant in thinking that God could be that specific me about my future. Fortunately, the others saw things differently. It did leave an impression on me though.
I am wired with tenaciousness and did not let the comment cause me to doubt my call. It did set in motion a pattern of reflection that I continue today. I constantly reflect on that moment, mulling over its implications and ramifications. It has also given me a deeper sensitivity in listening to persons share their call to me. As I have heard the call stories of many pastors over the years, I am glad that God doesn’t have a boilerplate call system.
Like the unique Christmas cards that parents buy for each of their children, God calls each of us in unique ways, lovingly tailored to how God has wired us. The call, and the method of the call reflect another facet of God’s gracious love.
In my next post is will discuss, “The Adversity Of The Call 2 – Surviving The Spiritual Gift Of Pastor Pounding”