Sunday, December 2, 2012

Reflecting on the call

Those that know me well, know that these last several years have been very challenging and stretching times for me.

There were times that I wondered what God was doing, and there were times when I had no idea why He allowed certain things to take place, but through it all deep down I knew that He was in control and working His plan as only He can do.

During the ups and downs of the last several years of ministry, God continually brought the most formidable times in my life back to my mind time and time again affirming over and over loud and clear that He had called me to doubt about it!

So, I thought I would share some more of the story of how God worked in my teen years to confirm in my life that He had a plan and I was a part of best as I can remember (I'm getting older ya know)...Here is how I know God called me to ministry.

My Call to Ministry

When I began my teen years, I was just like any other teenager, struggling with needs for acceptance, love, peer pressure and all the other things that make the teenage years a difficult period. One thing that I was so blessed with during this time though, was a dynamic youth ministry led by our brand new Youth Pastor.

We began attending the church right about the time I accepted Christ as my savior and from the moment I met him, I just knew there was something different about him. He was young, energetic, fun loving, and passionate about God’s word. He was a good listener, great teacher and every time I had a question about anything, he had a way of helping me understand from a Biblical perspective. God used him in my life at the exact time that I needed a Godly mentor to help me begin to grow in my new found faith in Christ.

So, for the next few years, I plugged in to the youth ministry whole heartedly! I was in attendance every week at church and Bible studies, I went on mission’s trips, I served at camps, I went to nursing homes, spent one on one time with God through Bible study and prayer. In short I was growing in my faith, and it was incredible.

I remember watching my Youth Pastor, and observing how much fun he was having serving God and ministering directly to young people. I began to think about what it would take to be a Youth Pastor like him, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it, or if God even wanted me to go that direction. So I just kept quiet and kept plugging in to what the Youth Ministry was doing.

Then, one night at Bible study, my Youth Pastor asked a question that God used to get my attention, He said “where does God fit in the equation of your life?”

He was doing a study on priorities, and challenging us to take a good hard look at who is the first place in our lives. He went on to say, that He believed that God wanted to raise up and really use some of our group to impact people for Him literally around the world, but not until we make Him our number 1 priority.

The whole time he was talking I was thinking about what I had been reading and learning about in my quiet times, and realizing that God was trying to get my attention with this truth that He wanted to use me to impact people through ministry.

Well, with the question “where does God fit in the equation of your life?” still ringing in my head I got in my old beat up car, and drove home from church. I was 16 years old, I was beginning to wonder what God wanted me to do with my life, I had a burden to see my friends come to Christ, I loved working with and mentoring younger teens, I respected and admired my youth Pastor, and now I was struggling to answer a question that was ripping at my heart.

It was ripping at my heart because deep down I knew that I had placed other things in the top spot from time to time, and I knew that God wanted 1st place. I struggled and prayed with that question almost all the way home that night. Then as I was about a mile away from my home, out in the middle of nowhere, my car died!

This was before the days of cell phones, so I had nothing except a lot of time to sit quietly and talk to God. I actually broke down and began to cry as I really sensed that God wanted to do business with me, and He knew that a quiet and remote place was the best way to work in my life.

For the next several hours I prayed, and processed what I had been learning about God and His will for our lives. I knew I wanted to serve Him but I wasn’t sure how. Then at the end of an incredible time of prayer and listening, I prayed to dedicate my life to God, whatever He wanted me to do for Him. "If it means being a Pastor, I’ll do it, if it’s a missionary, I’ll do it, a teacher, I’ll do it, a ditch digger, I’ll do it."  I remember telling God, from this point forward, with your help, you are going to have top spot in my life!

The car finally started, and I drove home. The next day I went to see my youth Pastor and told him the whole story. He was elated! I said, “I don’t know where, or what but I do know that God wants me in ministry, will you help me figure it out?”

So, for the next 2 years he gave me all kinds of leadership, hands on and behind the scenes opportunities in our ministry. He was personally showing me what a Youth Pastor does, and he was encouraging and affirming me all along the way.

When it was time to go to college, I asked him what college he went to that taught him how to be a Pastor, he told me where He went, and I applied to and attended the same school.

In 1986 as a college freshman Youth Ministries Major I began my formal education to learn how to understand young people, understand God’s word and effectively deliver it to them in a way that makes sense and connects with them, because God desires restoration in His relationship with us!

In 1989, as part of my Youth Ministry degree program, I did an internship with my Youth Pastor, where I really knew that Pastoral Ministry was the direction that God wanted me to go. I was affirmed in the areas that I loved to do, and saw God at work. The three main areas that I saw God’s hand at work were Preaching, Teaching and Leadership Development.

I graduated from college in 1990 and began my full time ministry journey which has literally taken me around the world, preaching, teaching and developing leaders for the Lord.

I love ministry, I was called to ministry, I have gifts from God for ministry, and I’m so thankful that He has placed me in ministry, whether it be to teens, college students, parents or older adults, it doesn’t matter. I want to serve God according to my gifts, abilities, personality, and experiences. He has been at work in my life, and I want to pass it on!

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