RING, RING, RING….
“Jamie, this is God…what you are now receiving is the CALL TO MINISTRY! You are to be the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Elkhart, Indiana. Congratulations…now go and get busy.”
“Sweet…that was easy! Thanks God!”
Nope…it didn’t happen that way. It would have been kinda nice…but God didn’t dial my number and give me explict, unquestionable instructions. I wasn’t struck blind on my way to Detroit…or Denver…or you pick another “D” city. I didn’t go into a trance and see a vision. I didn’t open the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box revealing a lickable tatto that said, “Elkhart, Indiana…a great place to pastor!” In fact, there is no “magical” event that occured in my life to let me know that I’m “called” into ministry. And yet, here I am serving as the Pastor of Cornerstone. And I am doing so with full confidence that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do. How can I be so sure? Hold on…I’ll get there.
I’ll go a step further…I am convinced that without the deep seated, heartfelt conviction that I am doing what God has ordained me to do, I probably wouldn’t be doing this today. Pastoring a church is not at all an easy task. It’s extrodinarily stressful, extremely demanding, and it’s very consuming of my time and energy. It’s very hard work!
And I’m not alone in feeling this way. In his book Church Planter, Darrin Partick says the following about ministry;
“Ministry is more than hard. Ministry is impossible. And unless we have a fire inside our bones compelling us, we simply will not survive.”
That fire in my bones is the conviction that pastoring Cornerstone is THE best way I can bring glory to His name right now. It’s what He has ordained me to do in order to have an impact on this world for HIS NAME. So how do I know that? In this series blog posts, I want to unpack my understanding of what it means to be “called.”
Listen…it is not at all uncommon for men in the ministry to question thier ability in…and even thier “call” into ministry. In fact, looking that the statics from the Schaeffer Institute, the man who DOESN’T question his ministry is in the minority! Here are some stagering stats from the site:
-Of the one thousand fifty (1,050 or 100%) pastors we surveyed, every one of them had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.
-Nine hundred forty-eight (948 or 90%) of pastors stated they are frequently fatigued, and worn out on a weekly and even daily basis (did not say burned out).
-Nine hundred thirty-five, (935 or 89%) of the pastors we surveyed also considered leaving the ministry at one time. Five hundred ninety, (590 or 57%) said they would leave if they had a better place to go—including secular work.
Further down the site we read
-Seven hundred ninety (790 or 75%) of the pastors we surveyed felt they were unqualified and/or poorly trained by their seminaries to lead and manage the church or to counsel others. This left them disheartened in their ability to pastor.
-Seven hundred fifty-six (756 or 72%) of the pastors we surveyed stated that they only studied the Bible when they were preparing for sermons or lessons. This left only 38% who read the Bible for devotions and personal study.
-Eight hundred two (802 or 71%) of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
We need to biblically examine this topic and get full assurance of God’s design in and for our lives.
I know firsthand how devestating our own failures can be to our confidence in ministry. I am daily reminded of my inadequacies. And yet there is JOY in laboring for Christ’s name! My joy comes in the knowledge that God has designed me serve as a pastor and that in His perfect plan, He has placed me here….now. And I am convinced from my study of God’s Word that He uses fools and failures…misfits and morons…wimblers and weaklings…I am convinced that he can use me! Just look at the men God “called” and used. Abraham was a liar, David was a murderous adulterer, Peter denied He knew Christ! And yet, these men brought God glory in big ways! With that knowledge undergirding my ministry, and with a proper, biblical understanding of my “calling,” perhaps I can avoid the burnout so many experience. And perhaps, blogging about it will help someone else. That is my prayer. More to come!