My calling into ministry was somewhat of a surprise to me. I was working as the General Manager of a chemical company in Stockton, CA and making very good money and had been with this company for over 28 years. One day the owner of the company called me into the office to tell me he was being audited by the IRS and that the taxes that had been withheld from my check weren’t forwarded to the Internal Revenue Service. He said that the agent auditing him told him to reduce his payroll liability and the biggest fish in the pond was me. He put me on an independent contract, (commission only) which basically meant I paid my own taxes. What I didn’t figure on then was that it also allowed me to do other things since I was no longer an employee.
I was serving the Lord in my church; I served on the elder board and was in my second or third year and I served on the Mission’s Board as a commission member. I also served the Lord in our community by feeding the homeless under a freeway and holding chapel at our local Gospel Rescue Center on a monthly basis. There is a huge homeless population in Stockton, California for some reason and both the homeless feedings and the Gospel Center Rescue Mission have an impact with these marginalized people group.
It was about six months into my new independent contractor role that my ex-boss stiffed me out of about $2,500 in commissions. We argued some about the money and I left somewhat disgruntled and went down to my car and took my issue to God through prayer. I was letting God know that this man shouldn’t be in business, that he was dishonest and a thief. God was quick in His response and pressed into my heart, “you don’t seem to have any trouble cashing his checks.” Wow, I was rebuked by the Holy Spirit to which I responded, “fine Lord, give me a job in ministry.”
It was probably about two month after being rebuked by God that, after an elder board meeting, the Senior Pastor asked to meet with me. He said that a letter had been passed around the Mission’s Board asking that the staff person, who was also an elder, be removed from his position on staff. He said that he knew I was on that board but didn’t see my signature on the letter. I explained that I was aware of the letter but couldn’t sign it; that Matthew 18-15 was clear about how to handle an issue if you feel someone has sinned against you and that I wasn’t even sure what this person did was sin, it was more of a leadership style than anything else. The Senior Pastor told me that the point was moot as the person already submitted his resignation. He thanked me for my time and wished me a good day. I wished him the same and began on my merry way when once again I was smacked by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit told me to ask about the now open position defined as Go Coordinator. I backed up the four steps I had taken and asked the pastor if that meant the job was open and if so I would like to throw my name in the hat. He said that it was open and that it didn’t pay that much to which my response was, “well I have been doing it for free.” After interviewing for the job I did get it and it has been since folded into my full time position.
Because I was working a commission only position (God knew) I was able to accept and work this second job at the church. I worked at this position for about a year. After my first three months it was obvious to me that I loved serving the Lord for a living. I spent more time at church than I did at my secular job but the secular job still provided well over $160,000 per year in income whereas my part time position at church provided around $1,200 per month. About five months into my ministry experience my sister suggested that the church combine the Missions and Outreach commissions and make me the director. I told her that wasn’t ever going to happen, she replied simply, “I’m going to pray for that!” Then about a month later our church sponsored a Leadership seminar where we brought in Don Cousins who wrote the book “Leadershift” to present his Leadershift style of leadership in a church setting. It was during this seminar at a lunch break that one the pastors interns came up to me and suggested the same thing my sister suggested; that they combine Missions and Outreach and make me the director. He said that if I didn’t approach the senior leaders at church to tell them this he would. I told him that I could not allow let him do that. I said “if I go speak to the Senior Pastor about this then I would never know if I opened the door or if God opened the door and that if I were ever asked to serve in this manner I would have to have God on my side.” He said he understood and dropped the subject.
It was about three months after that I was in a meeting with some of those involved in a GO project and when the meeting ended the Senior Pastors admin came and told me that the big guy wanted to see me, I went to his office and his door was closed as he was meeting someone else. I had another meeting and once that meeting was over another admin mentioned that Pastor Marc was looking for me. I began to wonder what I did wrong. I went to his office again but he wasn’t there. Another admin said “Pastor Marc is looking for you,” now I began to really get nervous. What did I do? Did I offend someone? I went and walked around the church trying to figure out what I may have done that had my boss looking for me. When I got back to my desk it was now the receptionist that came and told me that Pastor Marc just asked if I had left for the day because he wanted to see me. Now I am freaking out and needed to go off and pray and since our church is down the street from the local junior college I decided to go there and pray. As I was walking out the receptionist said that Marc went to lunch with the elder chairman and gave instructions not to let me leave for the day until he spoke with me. I jumped in my car and drove to the junior college and prayed that I wouldn’t be fired today and that whatever it was I did I would have an explanation for why I did it. I prayed for well over an hour.
I went back to church and as soon as I walked in Marc’s admin came to my desk and said that Marc is in his office and is asking if I’m back from lunch yet. I figured it was time to face the music. I walked in to his office and was extremely nervous, he said “close the door,” I’m thinking I’m toast. I sat down and he mentioned how one of the associate pastors was candidating for a senior position at another church in another state and it is when these types of changes arise that he likes to reconfigures positions and titles. He then said he was considering combining the Missions and Outreach commissions and asked me if I would pray as to whether or not God has called me to pastor those departments. I was floored, not only was I not fired but I was offered the position that both my sister and the intern mentioned I should be offered. Isn’t God amazing!!
Well that was nearly five years ago and I am still going strong in ministry. I believe that the training and education I have received from CLI will help me not only be more effective in what I am doing but also in areas that I am not doing yet. You see, I’m a licensed minister at my church. I can marry, bury and baptize people but have never really felt I have put in the time and effort necessary to be considered an ordained pastor. I feel that the Lord is calling me as a Pastor and whether that is in a support roll or a church planting role I am not sure, the Lord knows and I want what He wants. The training from CLI will help overcome the perception that I haven’t put it the work necessary. I will stop at nothing less than a Bachelor’s of Divinity from CLI.
It was Pastor Marc that suggested I take some classes and when I found Christian Leaders Institute I asked him to vet the school since there are so many online ordination programs that are a scam and the online classes at seminary are so expensive. He came back and said that Christian Leaders Institute looked like the real deal and that the cost was unbelievable and that I should in fact take some classes there. He has been behind not only me but all the others who have enrolled in CLI; he even meets with all students together once per month to discuss what we are learning, what may be surprising us and how he can help.
I enrolled in April of 2016 and really have enjoyed everything I have learned and am still learning. The work at your own pace methodology was a gift from God as I am now 55 years old and don’t have the time I once did. Christian Leaders Institutes Bachelors of Divinity will enable me to become a credentialed ordained pastor of the North American Baptist Conference. This credential enables me to work at any of the NAB Churches which number nearly 1,000. When the Lord provides the “what next” for me in ministry, whether it be where I am at now or at another church I will be ready because of the education I am receiving at CLI. If there was a prayer request that I have it would be that I am always responsive to the Lord’s leading, that I never get comfortable in where I am at and that I would always trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.
God bless all that you do to equip and mobilize the saints for kingdom impact.