I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t go to Church with my family. I was one of those sons of the congregation that every older member approaches to say that they should become a Pastor. I even considered ministry as a vocation, but in my heart what I really wanted to be was a superhero. As years passed and my future loomed, Ministry seemed less and less likely and my desire was to become a Mountie. But radioactive spiders were in short supply and the RCMP were not hiring during the 80’s so I, like most of my classmates went to University and took…something, something I thought would be right up my alley, something I would enjoy…but most importantly something I could get a job doing. Going to University and then more school at Seminary seemed WAY too long for me so I was going to get in, get out, and get a job in as short of a time as possible.
Almost three years into my program I had hit a wall. I hated what I was taking and felt like I had somehow booked passage to Tarshish and that a big fish would soon be headed my way. I quit. Moving to Edmonton to start a new program at Concordia I hesitantly headed in the direction of ministry but kept my options (escape plan) open. I was pretty unsure of the time commitment to Seminary and pretty certain that I was not Pastor material.Four years passed – I got my degree and then got married. Seminary seemed farther away as my new wife and I began new jobs, and yet this thought of ministry simply would not go away. Pragmatic concerns entered into the picture and paying off student loans, providing for my wife and soon to be born child and food – all became good reasons to stay in teaching and NOT to go to Seminary. But that nagging thought was still there.After much deliberation and against all good judgement we decided to leave our home and our jobs and return to Edmonton to attend Seminary in the fall. It was not always easy, but God was faithful to his promise to provide and care for us. To be sure it did not miraculously appear on my front step in the form of a pile of money like some people tell of, but it did come to us in the form of a short job here or a food hamper there, a summer vicarage, a bursary or a preaching assignment.
As God shaped me and my family those Seminary years seemed to go very quickly. Four years and three children later, convocation and placement was approaching, I wondered what I had worried about? Had God not promised to care for me and my family – were we not of more importance to Him than the birds of the air or the flowers of the fields? We found out firsthand how wonderful it is when your faith grows and is strengthened as God’s promises turn out to be real and true.
Has it been easy? No. In all honesty at times ministry can be very, very hard. We work with people who desire to hear God’s Word but we also work with those who resist it with every fiber of their being who at times see you as the focal point of their resistance. I have been profoundly hurt in Ministry and bear deep scars from those times – and yet there are also times where I have seen firsthand how God works through me, perhaps in spite of me, where He has used me to be a blessing to others. I know of no other vocation that touches people in such a vital and lasting way as Ministry. I have been frustrated to tears by apathy and even hostility among God’s people – and I have been blessed to have held tightly to the hand of the dying, assuring them of God’s mercy as they breathed their last and were embraced in the arms of their Saviour. No one can walk away from that experience unchanged!
Pastoral ministry is not for everyone. It is not always easy work, it is not always gentle work, but if you are one who is called to it, for good or bad, it is ALWAYS important work. We Pastors will not become rich, or famous, doing this but like Israel’s tribe of Levi we are indeed blessed for our inheritance is the “Word of the Lord” and our reward is the acclamation “well done good and faithful servant.”
A Servant of Christ and of His Church.