By the time you open this issue of the Blue Ridge Christian News you will have said goodbye to 2017. We all have memories of the previous year, some good and some not so good. If we are teachable we have walked away from 2017 much wiser and more mature than when the year started.
As I begin 2018 I vividly remember a prayer of commitment I made after submitting to Gods call to preach and serve Him. I cannot recall the exact words, but I do remember the context. I would serve Him faithfully in any role He placed me and anywhere He placed me. Yes, I truthfully made that commitment, and I meant it. I still do. Then came seminary. From this experience I left thinking the only real service that can truly benefit God is fully vocational service. That was my mistake not theirs. My commitment was real, but my view of that commitment was very skewed.
My service to the Lord has been through the office of pastor and it has been a bi-vocational pastor. I spent many years thinking I was failing God because I wasn’t called into full time service. For the last several years and specifically through 2017 I have experienced a revival of sorts. While I have nothing but respect for the vocational pastor I realize the most fulfilling role I can have at this time is to embrace the office of a bi-vocational pastor. I have come to understand why God has placed me in the role He has and the work He has ordained me to do. The bi-vocational pastor is a full-time pastor, a full-time employee, a full-time family man and most of all a full time Christian; all at the same time.
First may I say I am blessed with a job that provides well for my family and ministry. I am not worried about being a financial burden on the church I pastor, I appreciate dearly the support they give but I have the liberty to see church finances given first to Gods work in missions and evangelism before coming to me. The calling of a bi-vocational pastor is truly a financial blessing for church and pastor.
The blessing is not only mutually financial, oh no! I have the privilege of working everyday alongside people in the community I serve. I experience the frustrations, trials, tribulations and temptations they do. I feel their pain, and share in their victories. I also can meet with them and hear their stories of failure and restoration and victory. As an employee in the NC prison system I also have the privilege to meet inmates and hear their testimonies and when opportunity comes, I share the good news of Jesus Christ. I get to experience the living testimony I preach three times a week.
Make no mistake, the bi-vocational pastor has a full plate. Working 40+ hours a week on a public job and preparing three messages to preach, leading the church, staying in contact with members, visiting as possible and offering associational support and involvement make for a busy life. I do miss a lot of opportunity and I regret that but in this role priorities must be made and followed.
I am thankful for those in the church family who step up and work to maintain and manage the physical property and resources of the church. The deacon who serves as a true deacon. The member who takes it upon themselves to work in and around the church building and grounds. Everyone who prays for our church and their pastor.
For the bi-vocational pastor to be successful others play a key role; for example, the church must step up and be the working, teachable ministers spoken of in God’s word, those led by Gods man yet responsible in their individual calling. The bi-vocational pastor’s wife is a woman of unique quality and honor. My wife takes on many roles in the home and church. She serves as my personal assistant, taking calls when I’m not available, listening to folks and offering a tearful prayer of love and kindness. She offers counsel to ladies inside and outside the church. She looks for mission’s opportunities and teaches our grandchildren and the children of the church. She is my help mate. She is often my counselor when I become overwhelmed, and make no mistake I do. She does these things because she feels led to, I don’t ask nor expect them.
As I look back I see my skewed view of Gods work truly straightened. My commitment to God and His work remains one of faith and learning and dedication. Regardless of where He may lead me.
Why do I share this? We all have a tendency of skewing Gods calling in our life. I encourage you to look at your calling and examine how you see it in contrast to how God has laid it out. Let’s all get on the same page with God for 2018. It will be hard work and we will get our hands dirty, but the blessings will be amazing. I am content in the role God has called me to, beyond that I have found Joy in it as well. I want you to realize the same in 2018! Until next month may God keep you firmly in His grip.