A Call Story
On January 17 and 24 we are going to hear two stories about Jesus calling disciples to follow him. Here and there over the next two weeks we’re going to share some call stories with you. I’ll start by describing my own call to ordained ministry.
When I entered college, I was planning to be a high school history teacher. After my sophomore year I took a job as a freshman orientation counselor and later became a resident advisor. Helping new students work through their anxieties and learn the ropes of college life piqued my interest in counseling as a career.
While I was engaged in these activities, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I leaned on my faith in God to help me cope with his illness and eventual death. My interest in the Bible and in prayer really blossomed during this difficult time.
One Sunday I went to church, and I found myself thinking, “I’d really like to work with people out of a framework of faith. That’s what’s been helpful to me. But if I’m a therapist, not everyone with whom I work will share my faith. What should I do about this?” It occurred to me, “You could be a minister.” I say, “it occurred to me,” but it was more like a thought or even a voice that seemed to come from outside of me.
The more I thought about the word I heard in church, and the more I prayed about it, the more it seemed that God was calling me into ordained ministry. I had a conversation with the associate pastor at the church I attended in college. She was happy to give me information about Presbyterian seminaries. Next, I told my parents what I was thinking about. Dad said, “Well son, if that’s what you want to do, you should do it.” Mom got teary-eyed. My home church pastor let me tag along with him on pastoral visits, and the session endorsed me for ordained ministry.
When I think about my call to ordained ministry, two things stand out. The first is the importance of worship. Only once have I heard God’s voice in that way in worship, but I was in church that day because I was accustomed to being there, and I’ve been in worship ever since because of what God invited me to consider that day. So attend worship! There’s no telling what God might say to you, or when god might speak.
The second thing that stands out is how my call to ministry followed the pattern of Jon Calvin’s teaching on Christian vocation. Calvin said that there is an outer and an inner call, and the two must agree for the call to be valid. I became convinced that the idea that popped into my head was of God because my pastors and parents and session encouraged me to pursue it.
When has God spoken to you? When have trusted people encouraged you to pursue a mission or career that was of God? Let me know! Email me at MarvinL@fpccolumbia.org.
(This post originally appeared in FPC's daily e-newsletter. To subscribe, go to our home page and click on the link in the upper left-hand corner).