Yesterday, March 28, I took a look at my time hop on Facebook and was reminded that it was a special day for me. 16 years ago on March 28, I was sitting in my car late at night, after having spent time with my then girlfriend. She had been doing my math homework!
That night I accepted that God had a purpose for me. Had I been living for Him? No. Did I know that there was something specific that He wanted me to do? Oh yes. I had known for almost an entire year. All of my life, it seems, people had been telling me that God had anointed me for some work, namely preaching. I refused to listen to them. I used to say that if God wanted me to preach, He would have to tell me Himself because I wasn’t trusting what anybody else had to say about the topic. A year prior, God had been telling me every day. I used to hear Him inside of my head telling me to preach. I would ignore it. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because of what I thought it would entail. Either way, God kept calling, but I kept letting it go to voicemail.
Except that night. I don’t know what was special about that night. And this might sound like some sort of romantic depiction, but it is the truth as I remember it. During this time, there was a song by Kirk Franklin and Pastor TD Jakes called “911”. The song was a conversation between someone struggling with faith and a pastor who was trying to convince them that God cared and heard him when he called. At the end of the song, the Pastor led this man in a prayer. Now, every time I listened to this song, I would listen to the ending and feel lead to say the prayer, but I would always refuse. I don’t know why. It was just a song, right?
That night I prayed the prayer. I heard God speaking to my heart so clearly, that I could no longer ignore it. I heard such confidence toward me in His voice. I call it my Damascus Road experience because I saw a light flash in my consciousness and I knew that it was Him. Afterward, I found myself screaming out loud in my car, “I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” Tears in my eyes in my car at around 1:00 in the morning. Afraid to move, because I thought that I would miss a moment. In truth, it was the first time that I truly met God. As a 21-year-old man who had been in church all of his life.
God had a plan and a purpose for my life. But it did not follow the plan and purpose that I created for myself after that moment. I knew when God called me to preach, he called me to pastor. I figured that I’d eventually be a young man pastoring a church that would grow and become a mega church. We would make great money, dress like stars, and win souls for Christ. Win-win!
We make plans and God laughs at them.
16 years in, I realize God wasn’t so much calling me to preach and pastor from a pulpit but from living. I grew up in a culture that says someone who preaches is “special” and worthy of a platform. Special treatment. As I’ve read the Bible, I see that those who have been called to preach, teach, and pastor are the no different from anyone else. Many times, they struggle more than the average person. They are not only called to lead but called to endure their own hardship. I had it so wrong. I’ve spent so much of the years since then wondering when I was going to get my opportunity. When would I get to be one of those people who were heard preaching and them got invite after invite to go and preach all the time and everywhere?
Geez I can be immature.
See, I’ve spent so much of the years since then wondering when I was going to get my opportunity. When would I get to be one of those people who were heard preaching and them got invite after invite to go and preach the word. When would I be blessed with a church to lead? A world to change? When would I have that moment of vision where I knew what God wanted me to do? I was ungrateful for my calling. I even wanted it to leave me because the anguish at not fulfilling it made me depressed. I spent time looking at what other people my age were doing in ministry, growing more and more disillusioned about what I was missing out on.
Surely God made a mistake. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not anointed for this. If I was, I’d be doing what they are doing.
What I’ve learned over and over again, and what I’m still learning, is that God calls us based on what He knows He placed inside of us. Many times we don’t even know what those things are. His plans are perfect and are not based on favoritism. So what if someone appears to be more anointed than you. It’s an appearance. That’s all. The anointing of the Spirit is the same on all of us but manifests differently. We ascribe more or less from the Spirit based on our perspectives, which are often wrong.
I love preaching. Boy, do I LOVE preaching! It’s part of the reason why I blog! I love pastoring our children’s ministry with my wife. Do you know what I love most about my calling from God? I love the moments where I get to just talk about what God has done in my life as a reference to what God can do for anyone else. I love encouraging others to live out their life with God-sized dreams, no matter the faith level. I love challenging my students to live better and be better, by giving them Godly examples without mentioning God. I love worshipping with 6-12-year-old kids and watching them lift their hands and meet God for themselves. I love leading worship with my wife at Unite Worship Gatherings and just enjoying intimate times of worship between us. I love that I’m beginning to understand that the confidence that God had in me as a 21-year-old man saying YES to Him for the first time, is the same unwavering confidence He has in a 36, soon to be 37, year old man who is still trying to figure things out and live for Christ the best that He can. He believes in me.
I guess you’re wondering why I would even write this. I hope it doesn’t sound like a vanity blog. I guess I was just thinking about what I’ve learned, and hope that by some measure of grace, people won’t make the same mistakes I’ve made. My life doesn’t look the way I thought it would in any aspect in ministry. It’s dirty and messy. It can be confusing. But I’m so blessed that God would use me in any fashion to do His will. Whether I ever Pastor a church? Not my concern anymore. Whether I preach once a month or once a year? Whatever. That’s for God to determine. I’m just gonna keep moving forward in who He has crafted me to be, and try to become stronger every day. Yes, I STILL have frustrations. I always have ideas about how to do things better. I still notice what other people do different from me, but now I also take note of how I do things differently from other people, and how we both get results. It is no longer a badge of shame. It causes me to worship.
See, the pulpit isn’t a stage or a lectern. The pulpit is every step that I take in every day of my life. It’s the same for you. No matter what God has tasked you with doing, go Nike on it.
Just do it!