I have always known being called to the ministry was a call of mercy. More than my calling being about “saving the world,” I think I was called mainly to save me. I think when God looked at me He decided that calling me to the ministry would be the only way to keep me close to home. Without knowing I was supposed to be at church every day, I think I would have simply wandered off and never found my way back. In ways most people don’t know, I’m grateful for my call.
For instance, there are places I don’t go and things I don’t do because I know there are people counting on me. There are times when I don’t say everything I’m thinking because I know people are listening to me. Don’t get me wrong – I’m far from perfect – but in the same way being a father made me a better man, because my sons were always watching me, being a pastor has made me a better Christian because there were people watching me.
During my ordination council I remember one dear saint whom I had known all of my life, who pressed me about when and how I had experienced my call to preach.
“How had I heard from God?”
“How did I know it was God—not somebody else—calling me to preach?”
“Had my calling been validated and affirmed by the church—by those people who knew me and loved me best?”
Ministry, however you express it, is giving yourself away. Unless we are intentional to refill our souls, we’ll soon get to the place where we have nothing to give.
This week I had the privilege of writing an entry on my friend Thom Rainer’s blog about one of the most important parts of a pastor’s job – soul care. Read it all at Thom’s blog.
I don’t write checks anymore. I pay all of my bills online. I read several newspapers, but more and more I read these papers online. Although, I still prefer to hold a book in my hand (especially my Bible), I am learning to read more and more e-books. Instead of running down to the library, I Google my questions. I’m learning to text, use social media. I DVR most of my television shows.
In short, I don’t do anything the way I used to. Neither do our people. And guess what? They aren’t going to do church the way they have in the past.