Over the past few weeks, I’ve been publishing some of my history. I’ve recounted how I came to faith in Christ, how I became convinced in the truth of Reformed theology. Today I want to mention how I was originally called into the pastoral ministry.
A few days stand out to me in understanding my call to ministry. One of my most vivid memories comes when I had been attending Campus Crusade for Christ meetings for two months. I had recently received Christ as my Savior, and I finally got the chance to meet with the campus director, Jon Nitta. At the end of our meeting, he asked if I would like to meet with him regularly. For some reason, I remember exactly what I said in response, “Yes, I really want to meet because I want to know how to tell people about Jesus and eternal life.” Obviously, the evangelistic emphasis of Campus Crusade had gotten through! I didn’t know how much this little comment would shape the rest of my life.
I learned a lot about Jesus in the first few years after I became a Christian. God gave me the opportunity to serve Him with Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) in three different locations. I worked with the campus ministry as a student at Colorado State University by leading the social committee, leading a Bible Study, and leading some evangelistic efforts. Then, I spent one summer in Myrtle Beach where I practiced beach evangelism. After I graduated college, I went with CCC to East Asia where I served God in a pioneering mission work of discipleship and evangelism.
In 1997, I decided to get married so I came home from Asia with the full intention of returning after a year of marriage. I quickly found a job in Colorado Springs and a church with which I felt that I could serve. I planned to be at my job for a year or two (max!) before rejoining the mission work in Asia. According to God’s plan, I was a Systems Engineer on a Satellite System for 8 years.
After Julie and I married (summer, 1998), my primarily ministry was with her as her mother passed away just a year after our wedding. This was much more challenging than anything I had ever been involved with in the past was. As time continued, I became convinced that God was directing me to go to seminary instead of returning immediately to Asia as a missionary. I started seminary at New Geneva and graduated May 2004.
Over the four years of seminary, I learned about ministry in the local church. It became my greatest passion. As I became more doctrinally Reformed, we started attending Cheyenne Mountain Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs. As a small congregation, I had opportunity to engage in many aspects of its ministry. In the eighteen months we were without a pastor, I was able to help the mission and unity of the church by establishing a mid-week Bible Study and dinner. Later, I led the evangelistic course Christianity Explored. I have led a college and career group, preached a number of times, led a small group for young families, and taught adult Sunday school classes. One of the fun things we did was an evangelistic outreach where we handed out sodas (with a message) to local shoppers. I also spear-headed a hospitality event for voters who were using our building to cast their ballots in the 2004 election. When we called a new pastor, I helped him set the direction of our church as well as ministering whenever my schooling, my job, and my family allow.
Determining my call to be a pastor took years. I genuinely enjoyed my job as a Systems Engineer. I was a computer programmer and was able to create new tools for our team. Pastors would tell me that “if I could do anything other than ministry and be happy, I should do it!” My happiness at my job made me question my calling. At the same time, I saw a very negative side of being a pastor when our pastor was unkindly forced to resigned from our church, and I wondered if happiness was possible under those pressures.
Over time, I sought out some evidence that God was calling me to the pastoral ministry. I discovered some: First, my gifts seemed to be leading that way. I received positive feedback from people about my gifting for ministry. People say I am clear and my teaching encourages them. I saw people trust in Christ as their Savior. Second, I passionately desired to enter into pastoral ministry. I find so much joy in seeing non-Christians believe and Christians grow in their faith. I love it when people grow in joy and when they are able to love their families better. Third, God providentially showed us that pastoral ministry is His desire for our family. When we married, Julie and I both wanted to be missionaries and our desire to minister the gospel has not changed. In February 2000, my wife and I sought out God’s direction for seminary. He answered us by directing us to New Geneva and providing our resources to attend. Finally, in 2005, New Life in Christ Church called me to be Assistant Pastor. I was ordained by the James River Presbytery and installed in a wonderful service at New Life in Christ Church.
In the end, I came to the full conviction that God called me to vocational ministry by one passage. I have more verses now, but at the time Hebrews 11:24-26 guided my heart. It tells of Moses’ faith and how he gave up everything just to be identified with Christ. He was looking to “the reward.” I want to know Christ intimately. I want to receive that reward at the end of my life of Christ saying “Well done, good and faithful slave…enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21). I am convinced that, for me, the path of knowing Christ is devoting myself wholeheartedly to ministering in His name. The desires of my life are to see the kingdom of God grow, worshippers drawn to the foot of the cross, believers to know the love of God, Christians to love one another, and unbelievers to find Christ as their great treasure. The best place I can fulfill this passion is in the pastoral ministry, and I have been blessed to participate in this ministry for nearly 15 years.
Significant resources in discovering my call to ministry:
Desiring God by John Piper
“Moses: An Example” in Holiness by JC Ryle, 161.
“The Call to the Ministry” in Lectures to my Students by Charles Spurgeon, 22.
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman