Into the Pulpit!
I had a surprise earlier today when I opened my inbox. A pastor friend of mine, who leads a small church north of here, will be going away for several days and asked if I would fill in and preach to his congregation during his absence in July. I jumped at the chance. I don’t get to fill in very often but when I am asked, I really enjoy stepping into the pulpit and presenting God’s word to those in attendance.
Back when I was in seminary I thought that I would never darken the doorstep of the corporate world again. I had every hope that when I finished my studies I would get called to a church and I would spend the rest of my productive years shepherding a portion of God’s flock here on earth. Apparently, that wasn’t the plan. In fact, on hindsight, I am glad that I wasn’t called to a church back in those days. I have learned that God always uses us to shepherd His people where we are most qualified to serve and with my corporate background, in addition to my theological training, it makes sense to me that God would have me serve in the workplace as opposed to the “church” – in the formal sense of the word. But make no mistake – I still enjoy preaching whenever I can.
I realize that as a full-time pastor I don’t know that I would feel fulfilled but I am sure that as I age and retire from the company grind, I would enjoy the change in responsibility and the relationships that I would develop in the church. And whatever the situation, God has the capacity to touch my heart and make sure that I am in alignment with His will for my life. I think it would be doubtful that a church would turn to me, an aging corporate executive, to become a “first time” pastor but stranger things have happened. So for the time being, I will continue my work with client companies and depend on God to change my role to a fulltime pastorate when the time is right.
From a biblical perspective it is interesting to note that God delineated several different roles for the shepherding of His people. Of course, there were the original apostles; those people who learned directly from Jesus about the Kingdom of God and were charged with the responsibility of creating awareness of Jesus so others could enter into life altering eternal relationships with Him. Others were called to be evangelists – those who are itinerant teachers and spread the Good News of the Gospel in different geographical areas – the word “evangelist” comes from the Greek “angelos” which means to “announce.” Many times this was the work of the angels on behalf of God.
Still others were appointed to be prophets – speaking to the people on behalf of God, as opposed to priests who were to represent the people to God. And then, others were anointed to be pastors and teachers. This was one category – not some pastors and some teachers. Nope – one category – pastors and teachers… This is the role that I think I will eventually be called to fill. I guess I could argue that I love to teach and do shepherd people, but not necessarily in the same biblical capacity as pastors as defined in the Bible.
The verse for this evening is the foundational verse for these different callings. From Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul tells us, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” My encouragement this evening is that each of us has a God given calling and that God has chosen you for some specific reason that He is depending on you to fulfill. My prayer is that you will be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and that God will achieve His goals through you. And if you happen to want to attend church on July 21st when I get to once again step into the pulpit, please give me a call and I’ll get you the details. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…