BY STEVE DUNN
This September I will have been in the ministry for 45 years (not bad for a 39 year-old. right?) I had a part-time job as the Youth Pastor for the Newville PA Church of God. Twenty-five kids from grades five through 12. An impossible assignment, yet I survived and continued to serve God in a variety of ways. There have only been two, maybe three times in those years that I gave serious thought to quitting the ministry but each time God caught my falling soul, set my feet on solid ground, and provided me with a vision that moved me forward. Moving forward even though I knew times of testing would again intersect my life trajectory.
Such stick-to-itiveness is regarded by some as stubbornness and others as stupidity. But those of following this path know it to be something deeper, more profound. It’s called “The Call.”
Frederick Buechner defines The Call this way: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” If you can discern what your greatest joy is and what you believe is a pressing need in our world, and then find where the two intersect, chances are you will begin to understand God’s calling in your life.’
This weekend I participated in the commencement exercises for Winebrenner Theological Seminary. I am on their adjunct faculty and have taught for them since 2008. Along the way I have had the chance to teach many men and women who experienced that Call. At the Commencement I was celebrating the graduation of four of my students in particular. With all due respect to my other students and all the grads, I celebrated two in particular: Bob Collins and Jeff Musser.
Both Bob and Jeff found deep joy in serving Jesus and their hearts were moved powerfully, perhaps compelled by the reality that God loved His World and the people He had created. They deeply desired to share that truth with all people.
Bob and Jeff are what we call second career pastors. They entered seminary not via the conventional route of a liberal arts education followed by seminary. They came from industry and entered a program that will allow them to pastor local churches. Jeff worked throughout his seminary time and even planted a church. Bob followed a different trajectory in part because of physical infirmity.
During his four years of seminary Bob endured eleven surgeries, two of which were amputations and several vascular. As he entered his last class, Jeff was struck down by a heart attack and had to recover from open heart surgery while finishing his studies.
Yet both believed they had a call from God and knew that by God’s help NOTHING would keep them from completing their preparation for ministry over the long haul. So as Bob rolled across the stage being guided by Jeff, my heart leaped with joy and I saw one more witness to the power of The Call.
© 2016 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org