When I finished seminary, I thought that I would be done with the corporate world and would end up with a church. Frankly, I had it with all the politics in the business community and seminary was a haven that I really enjoyed; I wanted to spend the rest of my life in the church world. At the time, I didn’t know the how, when or where, but I thought that is where I would end up.
Apparently, God had other plans. I learned that you are to grow where you are planted – and I had been firmly planted in the corporate world. No offers for a church came in and it became evident that I was a little old to be thinking about being a Senior Pastor, especially when I had no prior church staff experience. Yes, I have taught Bible studies for years and our little group would tell you that they consider us a “home” church, but that’s the status of things.
I kind of gave up hope of being a church pastor and Janet kept reminding me that God had a plan and eventually we would find out what it was. God was faithful and it wasn’t long before I was once again asked into the business world – this time as a teacher of team dynamics and as a consultant to “C” suite executives. I loved what I did but I still wondered what it would be like to have a church.
I was asked, rather frequently, to fill in for pastors of small churches who were going on vacation, were sick, or otherwise in need of somebody to help out for a week or two. I came to know several congregations and was always welcomed with open arms. This weekend, I was asked by one of my dearest friends, Dr. Steve Smith, to be a guest pastor at his church near Nashville, IN – and not only preach in today’s morning service, but also teach Sunday school and lead this evening’s session as well.
When I have engagements like this, I tend to preach on the intersection of faith and the workplace. That’s where most of my experience is and it tends to be an area that most people don’t really think about. Most of us view pastors as people who only work on Sundays. Sometimes, people go about their work week divorced from what they heard in church on Sunday. And pastors, most of whom have never worked in the corporate world, have gaps in their understanding of the business community.
That’s where I like to go in my messages. Bridging that gap between those two seemingly different worlds. In fact, as part of my doctoral work, I helped pastors have a better understanding of the some of the issues that families face with job loss, money problems, teenager issues, elder care and illnesses. I have made hospital visits and consoled thousands of folks who have lost their jobs.
Admittedly, my heart beats for the faith aspect of all this – and I have been blessed by the ministry that I have undertaken in the twenty years or so since I entered seminary. However, I still get jazzed being asked to preach and teach from the front of the church. It is especially meaningful when I have been asked to help by a mentor and the sponsor of my first doctoral work as I was this weekend. And who knows? Maybe God still has a church for me sometime in the future…
I have dedicated my life to helping people get from where they are to where God designed them to be. In other words, I help them get to the unique place that God created especially for them – to fulfill their divine mission.
The verse for tonight comes from the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah tells us, in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This same thing can be said about each of us – we each have a purpose. My encouragement this evening is to make sure that we all realize that God knows our future and has prepared our best possible life in accordance with His will. My prayer is that God will enable you, and me, to continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and to help improve the lives of families everywhere. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…