What do you want to be when you grow up? As children, we are often asked that question, and the typical child may respond with answers like, “I want to be a fireman; a teacher; a doctor; a hockey player. As long as I can remember, the only answer I had for that question was, “I want to be a pastor”.
Before I ever started school, I was already on a path toward pastoral ministry. I thank God for my faithful parents, who encouraged me along the way. Even though I am sure there were Sunday School teachers who felt I would be better suited to some other calling, they still offered words of encouragement, and helped me on my journey through their faithful teaching. I was also blessed in a faithful pastor, who baptized and confirmed me. He officiated at our wedding. He was involved in my ordination. And, along the way, he always spoke positively of the office of the public ministry, and of his confidence that God was leading me to serve Him in this way.
There were moments when I felt insecure in this calling; moments I wasn’t sure I wanted the time of preparation and study that lay ahead; times when I felt absolutely unworthy of this. But God provided encouragement and support in my family, who listened to my concerns; in the pastors and vicars, who were open to discussion; and in the members of the church who always saw the potential in me.
Serving in the church also gave me experience and understanding of the church that still guides my efforts today. Again, there were faithful mentors, who enabled me to experience teaching opportunities; church administrative tasks, and musical leadership. Even serving as VBS custodian for two weeks was a learning experience! Maybe that is what matters most: seeing the pastor in his ministry, and being part of the church at work helps develop a love for the church and its people. The Spirit at work in the Word gives the faith and love to God, our Saviour.
Through the faithful, biblical and confessional teaching of pastor, teachers and leaders within the church, God provided a solid growth in His Word. I also saw my parents active in the church and active in the Word. We were encouraged to memorize Scripture texts. Bible studies in youth group and Sunday bible classes led me deeper into the Word. It also helped me develop a love for the Old Testament as the testament of God’s grace, revealed fully in the New Testament.
I felt that I could not afford to travel to the US or to Edmonton to take advantage of our college pre-ministry programs. I did try to tailor my undergraduate work with courses that would help prepare me for seminary. God alleviated some of the financial fears when Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines opened just as I was completing my B.A. This meant being able to study closer to home, and allowed me to work while attending school, too. I was also blessed with profitable summer jobs. Scholarship support from the district and from my home congregation also benefitted me.
Seminary, of course, took pastoral formation to a higher level. It was wonderful to explore those things I learned from my pastor at such a greater depth. It was a marvelous experience to put learning into practice through field work, preaching throughout summers at congregations across Ontario, and then through vicarage. I appreciated the closeness of the seminary community, as we looked together into the treasures of God’s Word and how it guides our church.
I believe that is one reason that sharing God’s Word with His people is a joy. Learning together in bible study is a blessing. Bringing the hope and comfort of the Gospel to hurting souls is a privilege. Of course, the pastoral ministry is not without its problems. There have been tensions and disagreements. There have been times when life has been very stressful. But God is always bigger than our problems! He has brought peace and forgiveness. Faithful elders have been a support, as have fellow pastors. I have been blessed through the members of the congregations I have served. When I was 4 years old, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I still can’t imagine doing anything else!