I was once a pastor. I hope you can find some wisdom in my journey. This is the third installment in a four-part series.
For many Christian churches, October is considered “Pastor Appreciation Month.” As someone who served in pastoral ministry for a number of years, I thought it might be helpful to share my story. If you haven’t read it already, you can find the first two parts of my story in the posts Why I Was Once a Pastor and Why I Am No Longer a Pastor.
WHY I STILL AM A PASTOR
God doesn’t change His plans, we do. I may have lost my way for a season, but as I wait on God, I am well aware that I am still a pastor. Romans 11:29, referring to God’s plans and purposes for Israel states:
For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (ESV).
God is true and trustworthy; His plans and purposes certain. God created me with the gifts, skills, and purpose necessary for pastoral ministry, and although there is no longer a piece of paper declaring that I am a pastor, no title in front of my name, or pastoral position in a local church or ministry, I am nevertheless a pastor. It is a part of my inner being.
And I will one day stand before my Lord, Jesus Christ, to give an account for the task He has given me. So, I still minister, even as I wait. I long for a renewed call to a pastoral position, but I stand firm in prayer and study of God’s Word until that direction is given. I learn, I grow, I seek God’s heart, and I tremble. I tremble, because the Scriptures remind me that:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
~ James 3:1, ESV
If pastoral ministry is truly my calling, and I believe it is, then I will one day be held accountable for this ministry whether I invested in the calling or buried that calling within the tarnished soil of life.
As Christians, we need to remember that we serve the Lord of the Universe, and He is a stern taskmaster (consider the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:15-27). However, He is also a compassionate one. So, I refuse to reject my call, I refuse to hide my call, I simply cry out to Him for healing, knowing that my Jesus understands “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2a, ESV).
Every day, I reflect on the words of Hebrews 4:15-16:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
It is that mercy I trust in, that grace I believe in, that One who I cling to as I wait in the desert, learn in the wilderness, and hope in the future.