I grew up in the home of a Southern Baptist pastor. Attending church and seeking the Lord on a daily basis was a part of my life. I was a typical child. School was a big part of my life. Sports were also very much a part of my life. I was taught to love the church and the activities of the church. Therefore, attending and being involved in church was a very easy thing to do.
Although I was in church, I truly was not saved until I was 17. As a result of meeting some other teenagers who really knew the Lord, I realized I did not know Christ as Savior and Lord. I began to seriously search out what it meant to be saved. I gave my life to Christ, and all of life changed. Jesus became more than a person we talked about on Sunday. He became very real in my life.
Soon after I was saved, I became very aware that the Lord was calling me to preach. Preaching became the burning desire of my life. To be honest, I did not surrender to vocational ministry, I jumped into it. My father was a preacher. He never gave the impression that vocational ministry was not something I would want to do. He was always very positive about the work of the Lord. So, committing my life to the preaching ministry was a very positive thing for me to do. Very soon after I made public my desire to preach, I began to get opportunities. I was willing to preach anywhere. I think one of the signs that a young man has been called to preach is that he cannot be satisfied unless he is doing it. If one is called to preach, he will never be satisfied with doing anything else with his life. If there is a strong desire to preach and it cannot be quenched, I think that is a call from the Lord.
I did make a public commitment to preach. The response of those around me was very positive. I think one of the things that a young man wants to look for in a call to ministry is the support of Godly people. The greatest question I had was how to get started. This question was answered by my pastor and my father. Both of these men helped me find places to preach.
Soon after my call to preach, I graduated from high school and entered college. I talked with other pastors concerning what I should study in college. I was challenged to study history. My Bible training could come in seminary. That is exactly what I did. I studied history in college. I attended seminary, eventually finishing two degrees.
The Lord called me to pastoring and preaching. At this point, that has been the only thing that has fulfilled my life. The Lord has led us to different churches along the way, but the emphasis of our ministry has always been preaching and pastoring.
As a pastor, my ministry involves all areas of shepherding God’s people. I am involved in hospital ministry. I do a limited amount of counseling. I lead the church staff in the Lord’s vision. However, always the primary emphasis of my ministry is preaching. That is the part of the ministry that I enjoy the most. It is my desire to be ready to preach each week, even if other things do not get done.
My spiritual gift is the gift of Prophecy. This, of course, means “to forth tell the Word of God.” My greatest joy is to take the Word of God and expose its meaning and then apply that meaning to the lives of our people. I do have a passion for evangelism. I love to share the gospel with lost people. My personality is very people-centered. I love people and love to relate to them. A great error on my part is assuming that all Christians are as desirous of winning people to Christ as I am. I have had to learn not to be critical of those who have not come to the place where evangelism is a vital part of their life. I have also had to learn that Christian growth does not come easily for people, and all deserve my love and ministry. I must learn to accept people and let the Lord deal with their lives. It is difficult not to want to be the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals.
My personal relationship with Christ must deepen each day. I have learned the importance of a daily quiet time. As goes my quiet time, so goes my ministry. No prayer no power; much prayer much power. Over the years, I have noticed that many men who have been in the pastorate for many years lose their “edge.” I think this happens when we are not faithful to have a time with the Lord every day. We cannot use sermon preparation time as devotional time. We must maintain a daily time with the Lord that is personal to us
Right now, the Lord is teaching me to wait on Him and to trust Him. I have been walking through some days of wondering why some in the church never seem to understand the need to continually grow in the Lord. This is a great burden. I have become very burdened about the carnality present in the American church. It is difficult to wait on the Lord to bring revival. And the Lord is teaching me right now that all I can do is wait.
To those just beginning to explore God’s call, I advise you to stay close to the Lord. You cannot find His will unless you can hear Him. You cannot hear Him unless you have a heart that He can speak to. The key to success in any type of ministry is to be in the middle of His will.