I have to admit there have been times when I wonder to myself, “Why did I want to become a pastor?” I’m sure we’ve all thought something similar. “Why did I become a teacher?” or “What made me want to farm?” One fellow asked himself, “How come I didn’t take that job with the railroad instead starting this crazy business?” And another is wondering “Why am I working for the railroad when I could’ve started my own business?”
We spend a lot of time second guessing ourselves and never making the big decision. Then one day we realize we’re closer to the end than we are to the beginning. That really makes us second guess!
Each year at this time I sit down with my District Superintendent for my annual review and he ask me a question: Do I want to move? In the itinerant system of the Methodist Church we are given that option every year. I’m happy here in Blue Hill and Bladen and am content to serve my parish till my retirement. However at my age there aren’t many occasions to challenge myself and experience new opportunities. So I need to seriously consider the offer and not simple brush it off even if I am contented.
And that brings me back to my original question: Why did I want to become a pastor? Sometimes we get so busy in our lives we lose focus on why we do what we do. More correctly we forget to bring to our work the passion that makes our work meaningful. And if that passion is suppressed at work, it has most likely been repressed in our lives as well. Certainly the sameness of what we do everyday can dampen our zeal and cause us to focus our energy in other directions or allow that passion to fizzle out. Ministers are no different than others. We’re torn between just doing what we’re expected, just enough to keep people happy, collect a paycheck and coast into retirement. But like everyone else, we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, leave our mark on the hearts and minds of men, work on something which transcend our lives and touches others in an ever widening circle of goodwill and charity. This is not unique to pastors but for teachers and farmers, railroad workers and business owners as well.
Sometimes you have to change occupation or location to maintain your passion. I did when I became a pastor. However I have come to realize that my new found faith in Jesus did not require me to become a minister. This was not the only opportunity God gave me to be a disciple. It was simple the one I choose to accept. And I praise Him each day for the blessing.
The truth is God expect all those who have accepted Jesus to be a minister in the place we are now at. The passion that we all had but has been lost or misplaced, can be rekindled and applied anew were we now stand and in our own lives.
Because God wills it, we can renew our passion in our work, our families, our community, our church and our faith. If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, we can begin again from the place in our lives we now stand and move forward as a “new man”.
” But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)
The time to do God’s work is now, not yesterday or tomorrow. And the place to share the Gospel of Christ is here, not in another community or another occupation. The next phone call, the next conversation, the next letter you write, the next tweet or Facebook you make is a chance to share your faith. And if in so doing God moves you to where He needs you to be then allow it to happen. Just don’t wait for God to decide before you begin to “put on the new man”. Cast off the old now, today and begin living in the spirit of Christ Jesus.
“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,” (Colossians 3:9-10)
“Why did I want to become a pastor?” Part of the answer is the ministry of this church; the bible studies, the youth groups and the opportunities to share the word of God. Another part is the people who have asked me to walk with them on their journey of faith. Yet another lies in Luke 10:2 “Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The newly formed men’s group and the opportunity to work with youth provides an opportunity to “put off the old man” and renew the passion we have as Christians. I am not obligated to do these things because I am a minister. I do them because I am a Christian. We are not required to do them because we are a church. We are church because we do them. God does not require that any of us be ordained or have a “License to Preach”. He simple ask that we follow His Son, that all of us, pastors, teachers, farmers, railroad workers and business owners step out in faith and continue the work Jesus began. The passion that was lost can be found again when we receive the Holy Spirit and allow it to work in us.
We do not give charity to become Christians; we share our blessings because we are Christians. We do not become ministers to reveal Gods word, but in sharing His love we are all ministers. The time and the place to begin this work is today.
And so when we wistfully dream of other places to go, other things to do and other lives to live, let us remember that through Christ Jesus God offers a world of challenges, opportunities, ministries and missions at our feet. By the gift of salvation and the power of redeeming grace, our passion can be rekindled and our hopes renewed.