I tend to get uncomfortable when I hear other preachers talk about their “calling” to preach. Quite often they describe some particular moment or series of events that pointed them toward ministry. My story seems less spiritual in nature since I have few encounters that seemed deeply religious. Here is how I became a preacher working in the ministry of the church.
1. I Chose the Path of Least Resistance. It seems like a joke now, but it is true. I chose Bible college because I thought, “One book, how hard could it be?” I knew my parents wanted me to go to school, but I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life. Bible college appeared to be a comfortable place to attend while I figured it out. Worse case scenario, I end up working somewhere else, but I have more Bible knowledge.
2. Circumstances Changed My Perspective. Two weeks before I went to Bible college my best friend was killed in a bizarre alcohol and automobile accident. I ended up going off to school with new questions and a quest for the truth about eternity.
3. An Opportunity Came, and I Took It. Some friends were traveling to perform as a music group, and they asked me to go along and preach. This was primarily prompted not by some spiritual direction instead as a chance to spend the weekend with my girlfriend at the time.
4. My Horrible Sermon Worked. I preached about 12 minutes and told the people everything I knew about God and my struggle to make sense of my friend’s death. After the sermon, a lady waited with her husband and told me how the sermon helped her as she was dealing with the loss of her brother.
5. I Turned Down Another Job. The summer after my freshman year I worked at a local steel mill. I worked hard, and the guys seemed to like me. At the end of the summer, they encouraged me to apply for a couple of open positions at the factory. They assured me that they would all help me get a job and I could start making serious money. After praying, talking to my dad and doing some serious soul-searching, I decided to return to college and try preaching again.
6. God Showed Up Again. During my second year of college, I went with a mission group from the college to preach almost every weekend. Each week someone would say how much they learned from the sermon or enjoyed my talk. People never expected much from me, and yet they were always challenged and encouraged. I took this as a good sign.
7. God Keeps Showing Up. Honestly, I cannot explain it. There are weeks I have struggled with sin and self-doubt. There have been weeks where I made mistakes and messed up my presentation. There have been Sunday’s where the sermon felt like a big flop. No matter how I felt, God continued to work through my words. People showed up and started growing in their faith. I could see it. God was doing something through me.
I tell you this story because it is like most people’s story. There are no incidents where the sky opened, and God spoke to me. I received no special revelations through dreams or some prophet of God. My life as a preacher has been guided by walking through open doors and watching what God was doing.
I think it is important to tell you this because this is everyone’s story. Most people I know became elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, and a host of other things just by saying “yes” and watching what God did in response. These people do not feel special; in fact, most feel entirely inadequate. Yet, God keeps showing up and using them.
Don’t wait for some extraordinary moment to come before you step out in Christian service or leadership. Take the opportunities that are presented to you and see what God does through you. You never know where it will lead you.