I am a pastor. What a wonderful and weird thing for me to say. In many ways I have been a pastor for several years now, working in various types of pastoral ministry. However, my involvement has been in addition to working a full-time job. Things changed two months ago when I was ordained at my church. Depending on the tradition that you are from, you may have a different understanding of what that means. You may also think it is a useless tradition. My own understanding of ordination has been shaped around my belief in the local church. During the time I spent here at my church in this year-long internship, I had asked if ordination could be a part of my journey. We had agreed to pursue it whether I would be hired on by the church or not. I wanted to submit to the leadership of my church and have my calling assessed and affirmed (or not).
The experience was a real blessing. Sitting before a council of about 19 guys, I was asked all sorts of questions pertaining to my character, my doctrine, and my calling. It resulted in a vote to ordain. That day was the culmination of several years of prayers. However, there was an additional blessing that was awaiting me after that day. For a few months prior to that date, the church had been talking with me about the possibility of coming on staff. That was finalized in October and here I sit today.
There it is, a huge change in my life summed up in two paragraphs. However, this change has been much more complex than what two paragraphs can explain. I have worked for nearly six years at Smuckers, which you may or may not know is one of the finest companies for which one can hope to work. That made the change challenging. As much as I have been praying towards pastoral ministry and as much as I believed that God had called me and was preparing me, the loss of that security was scary. On top of that, I have never been a fan of leaving a job. Any job that I have ever left has been because I was moving or some other necessity. Lastly, change is just hard, and it isn’t favorable, even if it is a change towards something that you want.
One serious consideration that I prayed and thought through was the fact that God had weaved into me such a love for bivocational ministry. As I have said before, it is something that I kicked against for some time, but God brought me to a place of loving it. A mentor told me that I would miss the mission field aspect of being in the workplace. For whatever reason God saw fit to make that a critical part of my life and ministry. I’m sure that he will use it in various ways now that I am full-time at the church. I know that it has changed me in many ways, particularly in seeing the value in every vocation. There is no menial, unimportant task in the kingdom. Also, it has helped me see the necessity for Christians to actively embrace the Lordship of Christ over every aspect of their lives. As Christians, we cannot compartmentalize our lives to the degree that certain parts are left out of our lives as disciples.
So here I am at the church, writing this at my desk. It is a strange feeling. These last few months leading up to today have been challenging as my wife and I have felt the brunt of spiritual attack, doubts, frustrations, uncertainty, and struggle. Nevertheless, I am thankful. God has been faithful to us and brought us to this point. Making the decision to leave Smuckers and come to the church was difficult. Letting go of the comfort of what was normal to us has been a challenge. Nevertheless, here I am. I am a pastor. I’m praying that God will continue to use me, just as I prayed before. I’m praying that God will continue to provide as I prayed before. I’m praying that Christ will be exalted in my life, just as I prayed before. In some ways nothing has changed and in others, everything has changed. Thanks be to God!