Listening is not my strong suit. I am striving to become better at it, but it is still a struggle. Today I learned several things and I received encouragement as I listened to others:
What I learned from a few conversations today.
- From a conversation over a cup of coffee I learned that the call to ministry is mostly a call to go. Some answer the call and stay close to home, and their ministry is no less valid, yet for many the call is a call to go. Jesus said “Go into all the world… Notice the first word in the command is go. It is not always comfortable or easy to go, yet from the beginning God’s people have been on the move. The “go” at time means go for training and preparation. Going to a place of service means packing up and moving out to fulfill the call of God on your life. The call to go, at times it means go to the outer limits of your comfort zone or very far beyond where you are comfortable. I heard from a young person today for whom go means go to the other side of the world. It will involve separation from family and the familiar, yet his face shone with the joy that comes from a life of obedience.
- Another conversation was with someone on the other end of the age scale. This person was a decade and a half the other side of retirement. Yet as he recounted the goodness of God and what God is doing in his life, he radiated the same joy I had witnessed a few hours earlier in the face of a twenty something young man answering the call to go. The lesson learned from my first two conversations is that you can trust God from start to finish. He is there in our youth, and He is there as we advance in age and He is faithful at both ends of the journey as well as all the in between times.
- The last conversation was with a group of dedicated lay leaders of a governing board. They made the decision to nominate a pastor for their church. Though my meeting with them was approximately an hour, hours preceding the meeting, were given to prayer and seeking God’s will for a leader. It is a beautiful thing to witness the direction of God being sensed by the callers and the one being called. God works through His people and I have a front row seat to see it happen time after time. I learned that you can trust the system if it is God honoring and bathed in prayer. In His way the God of the universe finds the right people and the right places and it is a beautiful thing to witness.
- I learned you never know what God has in store for His people. The person nominated tonight was someone I pastored when he and his wife were just a young married couple with their future ahead of them and no mention of following the call of God into pastoral ministry. Fast forward 18 years and he is a credentialed will be the lead pastor of a congregation. I have learned that the call of God is not dependent on my ability to predict who He will call, it is my joy to stand back and watch the Lord work.
A few days in my life contain conversations that are not always pleasant. Yet today I witnessed grace filled people who have followed God’s will for their lives and I have been a blessed bystander.