I could almost start a blog just for, or even write a book, about this very subject. This morning I woke up pretty early for a Saturday. Showered and shaved. Put on a clean shirt and headed out for coffee at Starbucks. I was meeting a pastor at 7:30am, his church is looking for a pastor to minister to the young families of their church and community. I’ve been searching for “what’s next” for me/us in ministry since last November 2008. I haven’t been “pastoring” at church since February of 2009. There have been many resumes and phone calls and interviews. This whole journey has left me thinking about my calling in life.

I came to place several years ago, entering my senior year of college, ready to graduated with degree in Social Science for teachers, with dreams of teaching, coaching football and serving in lay ministry at the church. God captured my heart. He changed my direction, my focus and my dream. I knew that if I did anything else then pursue full-time ministry, I would be disobedient to God’s plan for my life now. It was a powerful, life-changing encounter for me with the Lord. I was young, and felt His calling on my life into “vocational” ministry. It was gonna change a lot of things for me, but I embraced it all.

I’ve been following that “calling” ever since…

Thankfully the Lord changed our plans for Melanie to move to Yuba City, to join me there and for us to do ministry there. It wasn’t our dream. It wasn’t our plan. It did change, and much like my experience to pursue full-time, vocational ministry, was this change in direction from God. One, I did not want to disobey…

And it’s left me without a job, a place in ministry and really, vocational ministry since February. People define the word ministry a lot of different ways. I believe the way with live out our lives before God and others should be a ministry that impacts others, points them to Jesus and makes a difference for the Kingdom of God. I believe whether you are a doctor, a teacher, a garbage truck driver…or a pastor, as a follower of Christ, we are to be doing our “job” and looking for ways to minister to people and needs all around us. But for me, it goes back to a calling…a calling to pastor, to shepherd people. (When I talk about job, and ministry, for this purpose in this blog…it’s about me, as a pastor, as my job and work, etc…it’s hard to describe with only a few words, so don’t get stuck on some of those terms/churchy words right now)

I thought I was “good” at it too. Not because I’m some cocky jerk, but because people again and again, have shared how their lives have changed. Because I see people heading one way in life, and then the change. So maybe, I have become prideful. Maybe I have become too confident. But to throw out a church term: I’ve seen the fruit of the ministry I’ve been apart of and people have confirmed in me my calling.

So why haven’t I been able to find a ministry role at another church. We haven’t told a lot of people this, but we’ve applied at a lot of churches, up and down the West Coast…and nothing. It left me feeling a lot of things…

1. Maybe I’m not as “good” at my “job” as I thought, or was lead to believe…
2. Maybe I totally got that calling thing wrong…
3. Maybe I’ve done something wrong…
4. Maybe I am too prideful and desire position/status as a church leader, and I’m not an available and humble servant of the Lord…
5. Maybe I am just suppose to focus on being a new husband…
6. Maybe the Lord is preparing me/us for something new and different…
7. Maybe, after months and dozens and dozens of applications, the right church and place for us truly hasn’t come up yet…
8. Maybe God is preparing us for ‘doing’ ministry completely differently then we’ve been doing it…
9. Maybe I should go back to school, or seminary…
10. Maybe I should…

Feelings can be tricky. Sometimes, I’ve let my feelings dictate my impressions of, and from, the Lord. That’s why they can be tricky. Because God isn’t a just a feeling, or apparent in just my emotional state. I know I’ve been called by God. I believe each person has a calling on their life.

I know I feel most alive sharing God’s truth. I know I love being a pastor. In the last few months I’ve subbed at locals schools, worked in an office, traveled around and spoke at camps, churches and events…and doesn’t compare to being a pastor. That is my calling. But do I have to be at a church that pays me for it, or gives me the title at least in order to ‘feel’ obedient to that calling? My initial response is: No, no I don’t…but now that I am not paid by a church to pastor, and now that I don’t have that title at a church, even as a volunteer…I still believe my answer should be no, but its hard truly feeling that way.

What I know right now is I am extremely grateful to be working. It’s not at a church, and I’m not pastoring. But I am involved in a church and I don’t have a title or major role in things. Where I am working there are lots of opportunities to be an encourager and to serve others.

What I wonder with this whole “calling” thing is this: do I need to exercise more patience until that next ministry role comes along, or, do I need to be more open to a change in my calling/work/ministry?

No one can answer that question for me. Sure, the Lord could use a prophetic experience to reveal the next thing to me. But I also know, that the answer I seek about walking in my calling, will only come, from God Himself. The pastor I had coffee with this morning, he probably doesn’t know…the different people in my family, they have their opinions, but the probably don’t know either. God does. I trust in that. And, I’m counting on it.

I want to know it. I want to experience it. So to know it, to experience it, I’m going to have to truly press into the Lord right now and spend more time with Him and in His Word and prayer then before. He has the answer to my questions, to my feelings…to my doubts and insecurities. Because the more I process “what’s next” and my calling in life, the more I hear the Holy Spirit remind me of this truth found in God’s word: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD… [Jer. 29:13-14a]

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