On the occasion of my 50th year as a pastor, I beg your indulgence as I reminisce about God’s call on my life for ministry. I share my story for the glory of God and for the encouragement of the younger saints among us on whom the King of Glory may be placing a similar call to ministry.
First, let me site some promises of God Who calls us to a life-long adventure in ministry. These promises are foundational to Paul the Apostle’s ministry:
2 Corinthians 12:9. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
1 Thessalonians 5:23. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
Romans 11:29 ESV. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Jesus came into my heart in August of 1950. Unmistakably! When I was thirteen, He met me in a vivid dream, and impressed on my heart that pastoral ministry was His will for my life. I was licensed to the Gospel Ministry in August of 1965 by the elders at North Redondo Chapel. I can still remember the weight of their collective hands on my head as I knelt on the platform before 800 praying people. They saw and confirmed the call of God. I first walked into the sanctuary at Valley Bible Church in Northridge, California, in August 1969, at age 24, as a co-pastor with my brother, Alan. We were both still in Seminary.
Stop! Today, after five decades of walking out my adventure with Jesus, I still must raise the question, “Why me?” So, let me let you into the mystery of my calling. I will specify my weaknesses that would make God’s choice of me the source of perplexity and stifled laughter. Consider:
Scheduled to have been aborted, an induced birth weeks early to accommodate the doctor’s vacation schedule, traumatized and nearly died in infancy, the runt of the family of four kids, pitifully shy, physically tongue-tied (I’ll show you), emotionally dyslexic, pagan parents, broken home, fatherless, dysfunctional family, latch-key kid, “C” student in High School – I never knew I had a brain until my senior year. Essentially, I was relationally crippled, and just kept my head down hoping to survive unnoticed.
Frankly, I wouldn’t have pick me to be a pastor. No way. Would you?
But God did!
1 Corinthians 1:26-30. 26. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27. but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28. and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29. so that no man may boast before God.
That is not the whole of my story but is the essential context of it. There is a list that unfolds over the 50 years of ministry which proves over and over again the promises at the top of this posting. Go back and read them again. This time be encouraged. If he can do it for a beggarly kid like me, He can most certainly do it for you.
His calling is to do His work, in His way, in His power, for His glory. He will give you all that you need to survive and excel. He will see you all the way through. This is the great adventure! And I am still privileged to be on it!