by bobby williams
Not long ago, I was sitting and thinking about my calling as a pastor. I was asking the question, “how did I get here to be a pastor? When was I “called”?” I sat…and sat…and thought…and sat…and thought even more. I could not recall a time when I was “called” to be a pastor. Let me explain.
As a teenager, I attended a small, country Baptist church. I loved it. My parents attended some, but not always on a regular basis. So for the most part, if I wanted to go, I had to find a way to get there (pre I can drive days). And so I did. Every Sunday, Sunday night, and Wednesday nights.
When I turned 14, my pastor gave me a chance to lead a bible study on a youth ski retreat. That was sort of the beginning for me. It was that moment that I realized I really loved leading bible studies. But there was no calling.
When I turned 16, I had the opportunity to be the director of our Vacation Bible School. It was horrible. Trying to lead adults at 16 was a tough gig. But I loved it. I would love to say it was the best VBS we ever had as a church. But I’d be lying. It might have been the worst.
What Just Happened
A year or two later, the church went through some struggles, declined in attendance drastically and had experienced the loss of several pastors. One went on to pastor another church, and I’m not quite sure what happened to the others. There were several but none of them seemed to stick around. Thus, the church struggled to put more than about 20 people together for a Sunday.
10 of those might have been high school students in our youth group. We kept it going. And by we, I mean myself and two of my friends.
The year I tuned 17 years old, the church considered closing it’s doors. I’ll never forget that business meeting and discussion. I gathered a few of our students, showed up to the meeting and pleaded with the leaders of the church to not close doors because the Gospel needed to be shared in our neighborhood. I had some passion for the local church. I still believed it could be effective. I may have been wrong about that church in particular, but my hope in the local church is still alive.
Not long after that, I received a call from our former pastor, who was pastoring in a town near-by. He asked if I would consider coming to work with their youth group and he would mentor me in the process.
I said yes. I was 18 years old and a senior in high school. I had NO idea what I was getting in to. But I did know this; I had a passion for it. A deep, burning passion for the the gospel to be shared with people. To serve the local church. To advance the mission of the body of Christ in the places I lived, worked and played. I couldn’t express it like that then. I just knew I liked it, and I wanted to do it.
There was never a moment for me when I just KNEW that I was being “called” into ministry or to pastor in the church. But there was a passion there. And it’s never gone away.
How Do You Know
I hear too many people ask the question, “how do I know I’m called to ministry?” I use to answer that question by talking about a feeling, signs, scriptures that would speak to a person, etc. But what I was really explaining was passion. Something that burns within a person that compels them to take action.
For some, you’ll be called. There may be a time when you feel like you hear God speak to you and say “get up and go.” But for many and most, it will be answering the question, “what are you passionate about?” Find out what that is, and go do it. Doesn’t really matter what that is (unless you love selling blow- don’t do that. That’s no good).
Paul tells us in Colossians 3, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”