Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More Thoughts On The Call To Ministry

As a college freshman, I visited my minister to tell him I was thinking about entering the ministry. My pastor looked at me and said, "What the hell you want to do something stupid like that for? All day long, people come by the office and complain, complain, and complain."

OK, so I cleaned that up just a bit -- as the readers of the previous post will remember.

I left convinced that I had misunderstood what the ministry was like.

I graduated from college and went to work for the state as a teacher/counselor, working in a prison. Yet, I still struggled with a sense of a calling toward the ministry. One night, as I was walking along, I noticed this bush that was on fire, but wasn't being consumed.

Oh wait -- that was Moses, not me. Sorry...

But I was walking in prayer one night.

And nothing happened.

I simply felt an overwhelming sense of peace that I should enter the ministry. I enrolled in Seminary and was ordained three years later.

It is a great life! I wouldn't want to do anything else .

I get to go to all the best weddings. And I have the best view in the house. While everyone else is looking on from the pews, I stand right in front of the couple. I see them almost overwhelmed by their love for one another. I hear the nervousness in their voices as they repeat their vows. I look into their eyes and see a little hint of their fear as they step into the future. Do they know what they are getting into? Of course not! No one knows the trials and joys their lives will bring. But they start their journey in this sanctuary. In the presence of the church, and in the company of a minister.

I not only get to go to baptisms, I get to hold the baby. I pour water on the child's head and say, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." And then the fun begins, or at least for me, as I take the baby up and down this aisle and introduce the newest member of the faith to the congregation. Sometimes they cry -- and well they should, for the life of faith into which they have been baptized has the demand that the child pick up a cross in following Jesus. Sometimes they laugh and smile -- and well they should, for they have been baptized into a faith of joy and comfort.

There is no other life like the ministry. I am there at the beginning of a person's life, holding the infants in my arms and baptizing them. I read Bible stories to them when they are children. I go to youth conferences with them. I teach their confirmation classes. I perform their weddings. I hear their darkest confessions. I listen to their secret fears.

Through the whole spectrum of a life, I am there.

From the beginning, and sometimes to the end.

Being with a person at the moment of death is a sacred experience. I see the life slowly ebb away, and listen to the sound of the last breath, and there are times when the last thing they feel in this world is my hand in their hand.

As far as I know, the only job that comes close to the minister is the old family doctor, bringing children into this world and taking care of them throughout the years.

But when death comes, the doctor closes the medical bag and walks out of the hospital room, while the minister remains behind with the family.

I give thanks for many things in this life -- and among those things I for which I am most grateful is that God called me to be a minister.

5 Comments:

Blogger ~**Dawn**~ said...

chills. what you wrote gave me chills. not the kind that make your skin crawl with uneasiness but the sort that indicate you've been touched somewhere deep inside your soul. and the sort that leaves me no doubt that you did indeed find your proper calling.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Preacher Mom said...

What a powerful testimony to the joys of the pastorate, and in particular to your call to this wonderful, but challenging work. This is beautiful. God bless you.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Angelique said...

John, I am glad that you took a leap of faith and followed your heart. Not only are you happier for it but also the people whose lives you have touched. Congratulations on a life well lived.

12:40 AM  
Blogger see-through faith said...

wonderful!

3:33 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Excellent! May you always sense God as you follow His calling for you.

6:21 AM  

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