Called vs. Hired

The Central Church body did not “hire” me nearly eight years ago. They “called” me. There’s a difference. But before, I get to that, please allow me to walk down memory lane.

As a pre-seventh grader, I was sitting around a very non-cool campfire at family camp. It was supposed to be an “all teen afterglow” following an evening service. The four other nerds and me that showed up, didn’t know that “all teen afterglow campfire by the ‘girl’s lake’” (no mixed swimming in those days) was code for “Nerds Only Need Attend.” Fittingly, I was there. A pastor named, Roy Quanstrom (the father of Kankakee College Church pastor and Olivet Nazarene University professor, Mark Quanstrom), who was very cool, probably thought, “Why am I hanging out with these five nerds?” I don’t remember what Pastor Quanstrom said that night, but I remember looking up at the great big sky and sensing that God had bigger plans for me than All-Star Baseball second baseman for the Detroit Tigers that I had dreamt of becoming (with my athletic skills and size, the only professional athletic competition I might have been qualified for was “jockey.” Besides being a nerd, I had unrealistic expectations of my athletic abilities. Sadly, my golf partners in this Saturday’s Central Church golf tournament are about to learn this fact, but I digress). God called me to become a pastor that night, and I’ve never lost that calling.

Being called by God doesn’t mean “easy.” Ask the prophet Jeremiah or the Apostle Paul as they were sitting in a jail or ask the thousands of Christian martyrs when you reach heaven’s shores. Being called by God doesn’t make you rich. Have you seen the Nazarene pastor’s retirement plan? Too words: “Pa Thetic.” Being called doesn’t make you immune from criticism. Check out my inbox on any given Monday. Being called doesn’t make you perfect. Ask Karla, she can give you a long list of my imperfections.

In my case, being called meant that God (for reason only known to the Almighty) had determined that the very uncool, Garden City, Michigan kid with his unrealistic hopes of becoming the next Sweet Lou Whitaker just might be used by Him in ways only known to the Almighty. It has been that calling that kept me focused when we were living below the poverty line while pastoring in Bad Axe and kept me determined when the harshest carnal critics (believe it or not, pastoring isn’t for sissies. Thank you, social media) come at me with double barrels. That night at the campfire, has sunk deep into my bones and I cannot shake it. God Almighty (for reasons only known to Him) called me.

As such, the church board of Central Church didn’t “hire” me. God called me. God put an unshakable urgency to minister in Flint, even though that meant leaving a great church and our sons behind in Kansas. God calls others too. I was talking to a social worker this week. God called her. I know a police officer who is called by God. My doctor friend, God called him too. There are plenty of non-clergy divine callings that God has placed on people’s lives. God calls people to places of service. We aren’t hired hands doing a job. We are servants fulfilling a calling.

God called me to pastor Central Church and I am so glad He did. I would have been a lousy second baseman.