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Vicar Aaron Astley

As a pastor’s kid there were always people telling me that I should become a pastor when I grow up just like my dad. Because I have a stubborn personality and don’t like people telling me what to do I quickly dismissed the possibility that I could ever be a pastor. I worked hard to convince myself and everyone else who suggested it that being a pastor was not an option for me. I hated public speaking, it terrified me, and so there was no way I could do that job.
But as I went off to the University of Alberta to study to be a teacher the inkling that maybe I should go to seminary never really left me. The farther I got into my degree the more I realized that being a teacher wasn’t for me and that God may be calling me in a different direction.
I was still terrified of the prospect of going to seminary and possibly becoming a pastor, but God worked in wonderful ways to encourage me and guide me to where I am today. While I was in university my wife Leah and I began dating and got married. She was a huge support and encouragement for me as I faced all of these unknowns and big decisions. I also had many family members who were quick to encourage me and give me guidance along the way. God has blessed me in many ways with a wonderfully supportive family.
Most importantly though, I was reminded of our Heavenly Father’s words to Joshua as he assumed leadership over the Israelites after Moses died. The LORD said to Joshua, “have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Joshua was called to an overwhelming task, leading God’s people into the Promised Land, but God promised to be with him in His Word and to strengthen him. The important thing was what God would do through Joshua, not what Joshua could or could not do.
I took comfort from this knowing that if God was calling me to serve His people as a pastor that He would equip me for this task. I can see many reasons why I am not qualified for this kind of work, but my abilities are not important. Instead the focus is on what God is doing for His people. I am only through two years of seminary, but I have seen many ways that God has given me the ability to do what is required. The task of preaching, which once terrified me, has become one of my greatest joys in this work. On vicarage I now have the joy of serving a wonderful little congregation that continually supports me and encourages me in my growth.
There are many obstacles that appear as one considers going to seminary and the possibility of becoming a pastor. Do I have the skills that are required? Can I afford four more years of schooling? What about my family? And the list goes on and on, but God works through the seminary to meet these needs. Financial assistance from districts and the seminaries helps to lessen the burden of tuition and book costs, the seminary community and families encourage one another through what can be difficult times. But most importantly, God works through the seminaries to equip men to serve in the ministry. Although I did not think that I was up to this task God works in wonderful ways to equip men for this work.
The road to and through seminary is not an easy one, but it is a wonderful blessing to be given the chance to proclaim Christ, His death, and His resurrection to God’s people.