Why am I a pastor?

Why am I a pastor?

It seems an odd question to be asking after 20 years of full-time ministry and 4 years of studying to get a degree in pastoral ministry.  But I found myself thinking about it today for some reason.

I could have been a good many things, why a pastor?

One path that comes to mind is my love of landscaping and all things flora.  I worked in the landscaping business for 7 years and climbed the ladder of management eventually leading to an offer for a full time position...salary, insurance--the works.  When I was 20 and my boss said, "Quit college and come work for us and I'll increase your pay to 4x what you're making right now", I was taken aback.  It was the summer after my sophmore year at Baptist Bible College and my boss, Dennis, was bearing down with some pressure.  He had a vision for the growing business and I was somehow a part of it in his mind.  I remember standing there for what seemed like minutes, and playing out my life while also trying to figure out how to respond to his offer.

"I appreciate the offer, but I feel pretty strongly that I'm supposed to be a pastor."

I can tell you that when those words came out of my mouth, a completely different part of me wondered why I would turn down the kind of money that was being offered to me.  I wouldn't know this until I accepted the position of student ministries pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Bellefontaine, Oh, but I was offered 12k more when I was 20 years old than I made when I first started ministry at age 22.  I didn't make the equivilent of that salary until I was almost 29...7 years deep into youth ministry.  It's even crazy to think back on it and put it into words.  I think my boss thought I was crazy.  I suppose I was.

The truth is that I didn't think twice about turning down the job and taking out more loans to pursue what God had ignited in my heart.  I never felt a shred of remorse over the decision to pursue God's call on my life...I've never looked back.  Even when ministry gets hard and dark even, I think about how to drill deeper and wonder how God is going to carry me through what seems insurmountable, even impossible in my own strength and wisdom.  I don't think backward, I thing forward.

I think that's the power of calling...your mind doesn't hault between opinions vacillating and oscillating whenever life gets hairy.  You don't return to the past with remorse and regret thinking and rethinking if you would have done something differently you wouldn't be facing what you're staring down.  Calling makes life more concrete.  It holds you together when you're falling apart.  It's not shaken when you're shaking.  It's branded into your being so that even when you don't feel equal to the task, you soldier on with Plan A because there is no Plan B.  When there is no alternate route it's amazing how you find a way when/where there seems to be no way.

Ministry is Plan A for me and there is no Plan B.

These are the whispers of my calling that keep my hand to the plow...

- I love God and want others to know his love and love him back.
- I love the world that we inhabit and want people to know where/who it all came from.
- I love people with a passion and want them to know who and whose they are.
- I love redemption, when a life is salvaged from the rubble of trouble.
- I love the Gospel, the good news that there is a path from sin to salvation through Jesus.
- I love the Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.  I love seeing heaven touch earth.
- I love the incarnation of Christ and the incarnation of the church.  Incarnation inspires me.
- I love giving people hope when everything in their life is saying, "nope".
- I love grace and being a messenger of mercy to a world strangled in sin and shame.
- I love the body of Christ, the church.  I believe she is the broken and beautiful bride of Jesus.
- I love the Word of God.  I find it electrifying and I love electrocuting people with it's electricity!
- I love the restoration of broken things.  It's never over.  Never too late.  God renews.
- I love people's stories....every twist and turn that shapes who they are.  I find it all quite fascinating.
- I love preaching to whoever will listen.  Sharing God's Word lights my logs to this day.
- I love running toward the darkness and pushing it back.  Just a dent in the darkness motivates me.
- I love the friendship of the Holy Spirit.  I love hearing His voice and making His dreams come true.
- I love the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  He is the single greatest hero of my life.
- I love to walk beside people who are going through the valley of the shadow of death.
- I love finding words to explain difficult realities, things that people are trying to find words for.
- I love being God's presence by being present when everything around us makes us distracted.
- I love being able to approach God in prayer with boldness.  It makes me grateful and humble.
- I love to be a part of witnessing miracles and sometimes being a conduit of the miraculous.
- I love being a pastor...a shepherd.

Along the way I feel that situations have arisen to test my resolve and get me to question my calling.   But I can honestly say that I don't look back and wish my life turned out differently.  I don't fantasize
about doing something else.  I dream about being faithful to the end.  Staying fresh and true and good until my final breath.  Staying in ministry until God calls me home.  Fighting the good fight, finishing the race, keeping the faith.  I think of the words of Paul this morning that he shared with the young pastor, Timothy:

"Keep your head in all situations,
Endure hardness,
Do the work of an evangelist,
Discharge the duties of your ministry." - 2 Timothy 4

Yes. These words land in my heart with gravity today.

I would say to Paul, "I want to...worse than anything, I want to."

I'm so glad I'm a pastor.


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