I had just professed faith in Christ at the end of a service, and my pastor told me to sit on the front pew and complete the church membership form. I did so, understanding as a 13-year-old little more than my desire to do whatever I needed to be a good Christian.
That’s when it happened. My pastor stepped behind the pulpit and began making announcements, and I heard in my head these words: “I want you to preach my Word.” I realize some readers might question my theology or wonder about my memory, but that’s what happened. The words were so strangely clear to me that they’ve never wavered in more than 40 years. God called me to preach His Word that day.
Here’s why that calling still matters to me today:
- It gives clarity to my life. My roles have changed (pastor, seminary professor, missions team member), but my calling has not. Whatever seat I’m in, I know my calling is to preach the Word. Frankly, I believe I could fulfill that calling while teaching high school English as long as I am proclaiming God’s message (see this post about my understanding of this specific issue).
- It shows me the power of our Creator-Redeemer God. See, I had never been in church in my life until that day. It wasn’t like I’d been thinking about being a preacher. No relative had ever prayed for me in that way. I didn’t know enough to know anything about “calling”; in fact, I wasn’t even sure what “my Word” meant. Still, I know what occurred. God unexpectedly and dramatically stepped into my life and changed my plans. That’s amazing to me.
- It reminds me that God knows and loves me intimately. He called me – a 13-year-old kid who had already planned his life as a teacher . . . a new believer who hadn’t been raised in church . . . a guy who could not have named any books of the Bible at the time. Somehow, however, He spoke to my soul that day.
- It encourages me to press on. Ministry can be difficult some days. More than once, I’ve thought about other things I could do. What I can’t ignore, though, is that remarkable day decades ago when God saved me and called me.
- It helps me to counter discouragement. I wish everyone would listen to me when I preach, but that doesn’t happen. I long for everyone to get saved, yet not everyone responds that way. Somedays, I preach and then wonder why I’m so rotten at the task. Still, though, my calling trumps my discouragement.
- It reminds me of the sweetness of the local church. God called me internally that day, but my church later confirmed that calling externally. They prayerfully saw something in me that they felt worth supporting. I will always be grateful for that Pisgah, Ohio congregation that gave me my ministry start.
Why does your calling matter to you?