When I left home for college, I did not go to church for two years, and that might be generous. The reason I did not go to church for several years (probably more accurate than “two years.”) is because I was sick of church.
As a pastor’s kid, I was in church constantly. While at church I had to talk to people and sweep floors and set up tables and babysit people’s kids who peed on me, and all manner of other things, while football and baseball games were going on that I never got to enjoy. And, to top it all off, I saw my dad get put through the ringer for it all.
I have a love/hate relationship with church. If you had asked me in high school, “Jeff, what do you want to do for a living?” My stock answer was, “I’m not sure, but I know I don’t want to be a pastor.”
Yup, I actually said that. Then, after skipping church for a couple years and pursuing majors in broadcasting and Bible, it hit me, “Oh no. No. Please no. I have to be a pastor.”
It was a horrible thing and yet I can remember it clear as day. I remember talking to my dad about it. I went home for break and he took me out to breakfast at a little restaurant near my bank and I said, “Um Dad, I think I’m supposed to be a pastor.”
He looked up from his biscuits and gravy and said, “Oh Jeff, don’t do it.”
As we talked about it, he eventually said, “Don’t do it Jeff, but if you have to, you have to. I understand”
Well, I had to. I changed my major and made plans for seminary.While at seminary we all had to take a personality test to see what denomination we would best fit into (yeah, I had many pet peeves about seminary). Later we met with a counselor to go over our results. I remember the guy looking at my test and then saying, “Well, Jeff, you do not have the personality of a pastor.”
I believe my answer was somewhat along the lines of, “Oh praise God!”
One summer break from seminary my wife and I, who was a teacher, stayed with my grandparents while my grandpa was sick. During this time, people from his church he was pastor at, asked if I would fill in for him.
I did and preached four times or so. That fall my grandpa died and the church asked if I would come be their pastor. I was ready for this and totally done with school. So, here I am, 13 years later, still pastor of the church my grandpa started.
I’m a vastly different guy from my youth in church, my church-skipping days of college, my seminary days and my early pastoring days where I thought I knew what I was doing.
Over the years people have asked me if I “Had a call to the ministry.”
I don’t know what that means really. I had no Damascus Road moment, no vision of God’s back while I hid among boulders, or anything like that. I know what happened in college and the absolute assurance that I was going to be a pastor.
Was this God’s call? Was this more to do with the fact that the broadcasting major intimidated me too much? Was this the easy way out? A nice way to get a job by nepotism?
Part of me half-expects when I stand before the Lord, He’ll say, “Um, Jeff? What was with the pastor thing? Did you not hear your dad or the counselor from seminary?”
Why do pastors get a “call” and mechanics and hair dressers don’t? What is this notion of vocational calling? Where is this in the Bible? What do non-pastors think pastors should experience that lets them know pastors should be pastors?
I don’t know. I’m doing what I’m doing, and by the grace of others, I continue to get paid to read the Bible and talk about it. I am forever grateful and I hope my understanding of things can be of use to others.
I’m not the world’s greatest pastor. I’m too impatient. Too shy. Too pet-peeved. But I’m also growing. Paul tells Timothy, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”
I’m an idiot, but not as big of a one as I used to be! I’ve learned some things and I desire to live them and share them that others may know Christ. That’s it. That’s “my call.”
Pet Peeve Month Recap:
Christians who are Always Peeved about Something
Pastors and Sex
Christians and Alcohol
Holy Spiritless Christianity
Keep Your Seeking God Statements to Yourself
Basing Your Salvation on Being Like Others
PMS and the Gospel
Paul, Grace and Law
Blaming Church for Kids Wandering Away
“The Call” to Ministry
I’m Spending time with God so I won’t be blogging, Facebooking, etc
Oh, I Don’t Watch TV
If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!
Not Agreeing with Everything a Theologian Says
Christian Compliments After Arguments
The Man Upstairs
The Inoffensive Gospel
It’s A Mystery!
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month