Five or so years ago my pastor asked me to consider preaching a sermon. Before long, I was preaching once or twice a month. I enjoyed the study, and there were times when I enjoyed the preaching itself. But I struggled with the whole idea of being “called to preach,” and wondered if I should be preaching at all.
We moved away after a couple of years. I was relieved to not have to preach anymore. But then I wondered if I was “running from a calling.” I wasn’t sure if there was a calling or not, but I was afraid of ignoring it if there was. I decided to give it another chance. With the encouragement of a friend, I got on the local Baptist association’s supply list. If it is God’s will that I preach, I thought, then they will call me. If not, they won’t. They did.
As I was asked to preach more and more, my internal struggle grew stronger. There were reasons why I didn’t feel right about preaching. I often felt like an impostor or fake. Not quite Gina Welch in the land of believers, but something like that. What if they find me out?
The bright side was that I finally had a good excuse to enroll in some seminary courses. If I had the leisure and the loot, I could be a lifelong seminary student. But taking the courses made my struggle even worse.
While I was in my office studying class notes or sermons, I had a wife and two little girls who I ignored. A baby boy was born during that time, too. When I was with them, I wasn’t pleasant. You would think that someone spending so much time in edifying activity would be a blessing to be around, right? Wrong. I was irritable, preoccupied, tired, stressed, and ugly. The last had nothing to do with the work, but I have to blame it on something. And I was still confused.
I wore myself out trying to discern a calling. Unfortunately, Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something wasn’t out yet. But I found some good advice from Spurgeon. If you can quit preaching, he said, then quit. I was pretty sure that I could. After a lot of prayer and talking about it so much with my wife that she wanted to scream and throw things, I removed myself from the list and informed all of the churches that I was no longer available. Then, to make sure that they would never call me again, I started attending a Presbyterian church.
Though I was at peace with my decision to quit preaching, I still spent a lot of energy wondering if I had some sort of calling, or if I would ever be of any use. I’ve finally realized that I do have a calling. It’s quite clear, and quite close. I am called to be a husband and father, and I have visible proof. And I’m also called to serve my local church in whatever small way that I can. And I’m called to serve whomever I have the opportunity to serve, in whatever small way.
One of the reasons that people encouraged me to preach was my love of studying the Word and theology. But this should be normal for a Christian. We all need it. Whether we preach to a congregation of hundreds, or teach a class of five, or have a child at home, how we share our faith and present the gospel is important. While thinking about whether to continue to preach or not, I was afraid that my study would be wasted if I quit. I was wrong. Each time that my six-year-old asks a question, I realize how much more study I need.
What a calling to be a spouse, or parent, or friend, or church member. Want to teach theology? Spend some time with a curious four-year-old. Want to be a Christian counselor? Get married. (We change roles regularly on that one.)
In the home or church, there are no unimportant jobs. Sure, we need pastors. But we also need faithful church members who love and encourage one another. And we need faithful fathers and mothers who see parenting as the high calling that it is–one that takes a lot of thought, study, effort, and prayer. And we need spouses who put as much effort into their marriage as they do their jobs and hobbies.
Am I making too much fuss over small things? Being a parent, or a spouse, or a faithful church member? Who has perfected these things? I want to be friends with them. Well, maybe I don’t. But my point is that God has clearly given me a job, and I have yet to do it well. I do have a high calling. We all have a high calling. We just need to see it that way.