It has been said that we are a ‘product of our raising’. In my case, that is true from several standpoints. My small town upbringing, being raised in a ‘Christian’ home, my own personal relationship with God, my family, my career, the talents God gave me, and the decisions I have made in all of these areas play important parts in who I am and my ministry. I am where I am because of the choices I have made, but I feel as if God has had guardrails up along the way to steer me in the direction my life has taken.
I was raised in a small town. That says a lot. The church was very important to me and my family growing up. It was a part of every week, and it was a major part of my social life. My role models were the adults who attended our church. Their lives were an open book to me because I observed their frailties and measured their response to difficulties against what I knew of Scripture. My pastor was what I imagined that God would want a pastor to be. He was kind, compassionate, and he delivered the scriptures to ‘his flock’ with a sense of reverence. I remember sitting in the parking lot of the hospital on the night he died with tears in my eyes, realizing that I had lost a friend, a spiritual role model, and a spiritual leader. He had made a difference in my life.
My commitment to my faith has been a major factor in my social life. The things that people say teenagers will inevitably experiment with were not a part of my life. I never drank. I didn’t do drugs. I was not wild in any sense of the word. This does not mean that I was not aware of what was going on around me. I was very aware. I just chose to make what I thought were right decisions for me. This tended to isolate me socially. I participated in sports and other academic organizations, but I did not socialize with many who were a part of these groups. My accountability was to God and my parents. These other things were not a part of who I was. Without ever verbalizing it, I knew the choices I made were choices I would have to live with.
I was ‘saved’ at the age of nine. I believe God had taken up residence in my heart before that, but that was when I made it public. I also went forward at Falls Creek Youth Camp one year and surrendered my life to “special service.” I always felt God had His hand on my life. At the time, it was common to believe that special service meant being a preacher or music director or some church vocational position. I did not believe that was my calling, but I have always felt the need to help people understand the Bible and the impact it could have on their life. Jesus’ ministry was to the masses. He taught them how to live a life of meaning. I have a deep desire to share that fact with anyone who will listen.
Through the years, ministry opportunities have presented themselves through work, through my family, through the various organizations I have been a part of. If God makes a difference in your life, then He will make a difference in the lives of the people around you.
I have learned God doesn’t always choose individuals that would be considered by their society to be the best choice for an assignment. Paul was a persecutor of Christians. Moses lacked confidence and did not believe he possessed the speaking skills to do what God wanted him to do. David was the youngest and smallest of his brothers, and yet he slew Goliath and became king of his people. Most of the prophets feared the assignment God gave them. In my case, there are at least four men in my current Sunday School class that are very capable teachers, but God chose me to teach this group, and we are growing. It is not because I am such a great teacher. I just accepted the assignment and let God do the teaching through me.
At this time, I am a high school teacher. I teach courses in web design, computer graphics, and video production. I have a ministry to the students in my classes. I cannot outwardly teach God’s Word to them. I just try to weave character education into the curriculum. I have been surprised at the opposition I have met from some students who obviously have the wrong influences controlling their lives. I try to see these students as God sees them. He loves them. He grieves over what they do and He opposes the negative influences in their lives, but He loves them still.
I have become more and more dependent on Jesus to guide my ministry. I do not seek specific opportunities; I only seek opportunities. The class I am currently teaching is not the age group I would have chosen to teach. However, it is obviously where God wanted me to be and He has blessed immensely.
The best advice I could give to any student is to become well-founded in the Word. Know God and let Him reveal Himself to you, so you can become more like Him. Be a minister wherever you are and to whoever you are with. Don’t be discouraged. God’s Word will not return unto Him void. You are a messenger.