Ever wonder why or how a preacher became a preacher? Some might think it one day dawned upon a particular person that he was a “natural” at public speaking; or that he had a winsome personality and was good-natured and a “people person.” Some would guess that a certain man had a father or grandfather that was a minister and so, not disappointing his family, he followed in their steps in becoming a pastor/preacher. I had a grandmother, and later a pastor, that laid a hand on me when I was but a child and said I was a “preacher boy” or something to that effect. Why would a person choose to enter the ministry as a life’s vocation? Good benefits? Job security? Cush job in which you can set your own hours and be your own boss?
Well, of course, none of the above! You might have heard it said, as have I, that, “if you can do anything else and be happy, do it!” That is usually advice that a would-be pastor or minister is given by a well-meaning member of his ordination council just before hands are laid on the candidate and a commendation to the church from the council is read, following a prayer of dedication. But of course, by that time the one coming for ordination has (hopefully!) already been convinced in his own spirit and by the approval and encouragement of others that God has called him to ministry and that he could not be happy or fulfilled doing anything else.
Preachers are preachers and pastors are pastors and missionaries are missionaries and evangelists are evangelists because they are called and compelled of God to be such; at least that is the biblical pattern and precedent.
Jeremiah was sanctified and ordained a prophet to the nations before he came out of his mother’s womb. (Jer.1:5)
Paul was separated from his mother’s womb and called by God’s grace to preach Christ among the heathen. (Gal. 1:16).
Paul said he was called of God to be an apostle (Rom.1:1) and ordained a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of Gentiles (2 Tim. 1:11).
It is both interesting and amazing that Paul was called by God in his mother’s womb to preach before he became a persecutor and tormentor unto death of believers in the Christ he would later preach.
I did receive a call to preach when I was in my first semester of college, away from home, family, my home church and just about everything familiar to me. It was as I read those glorious, majestic passages of Isaiah that God seemed to say, “Tony, there are probably enough lawyers to handle things down there; what I need and want you to do is to preach these glorious passages from Isaiah that are stirring your soul like nothing you are learning in your pre-law courses.” I made a public declaration of my surrender to that call of God during the Thanksgiving break under the ministry of evangelist Glen Schunk who was conducting a revival meeting in my home church that I attended while home for the break from college.
Believing that a call to serve is a call to prepare, I transferred to a Christian college for my second semester and entered a ten-year journey of preparation during which time God brought into my life the charming southern belle who would become in August of 1965 my beautiful bride.
I had thought my call to preach was a call to be an evangelist, but under the four-year pastoral tutelage of Dr. R.V. Clearwaters at Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis I became convinced of his conviction that God calls to serve and He will equip you, gift you and place you in His vineyard when and where He chooses after you are surrendered and prepared. Consequently forty-nine years ago, following my last year of seminary, God placed me in a church in Wichita, Kansas where I pastored six years; then in a church in Newton, Kansas where it was my privilege to pastor for two and one-half years as their first pastor, then on to Indianapolis, Indiana to the Thompson Road Baptist Church where I finished last September my 40th year as pastor before resigning and then becoming interim pastor of the Coatesville Missionary Baptist Church in Coatesville, Indiana. I am so glad that He called and equipped and placed this preacher/pastor into the ministry and has sustained me, led me, guided me and kept me in His service for this half-century. I praise Him for His holy call!
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (I Tim. 3:1)