I am eager to follow my pastor calling with classes at Christian Leaders Institute. I grew up in New Albany, IN, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY. My parents raised my four brothers and me in a Church of Christ. We attended the same denominationally affiliated high school and were third generation graduates – my grandad, my mom, and an aunt all are alumni. In addition to this, we attended a Bible camp during the summer that also has the Church of Christ affiliation. I kept myself busy with my studies and with the numerous extracurricular activities I was involved in; namely, sports, choir, and National Honor Society. Because of this, I hardly ever was in “big trouble” with my parents. I worked hard in many areas of my life, but never as hard on my spiritual life. I was baptized when I was 13, and do truly believe that God used that moment to bring me into the fold, despite not always looking like it. I definitively noticed a difference in how I behaved and how I treated others. However, I was just doing good because of what I knew to be right, I was not cultivating belief along with action, nor was I doing it out of love for God or others. I displayed works, but not faith.
After graduation, I went out on my own as a college athlete about two hours away from home at a general Baptist university. I did not have a license, so going home was out of the question and my parents did not visit often. This created an atmosphere of loneliness, almost as if I was in exile. My teammates always tried getting me to go to strip clubs, parties, and the like, despite my young age. I can thankfully say that not once did I ever violate my morals and party with them. I did, however, not have a firm foundation of faith on which to place my beliefs. My beliefs started to become more fluid, and with them, my actions. Almost as soon as I got to college I started viewing porn.
One night, early in my sophomore year of college, a girl I had become friends with during my freshmen year approached me and expressed her affections for me and desire to date me. I proceeded to “friend zone” her. Several months later I was in a traumatic car wreck on my way back to college. I should have died, but by God’s wondrous grace I am still here today. As soon as my car came to a stop I knew that I should have died. I knew that God was getting my attention. I knew that he wanted me to take my faith more seriously. Along with that, a few weeks later I also knew that I made a mistake in not dating that girl who had asked me out. Several months later we were dating, and have now been married for almost a year and a half. My wife was very influential in helping me mature and be the spiritual leader that I am supposed to be.
After my wreck, one of my older brothers sat me down and began to discuss with me the doctrines of grace. He had me open up to Romans 9. This new-found knowledge of God’s sovereignty and grace coupled with my near-death experience created a firm foundation of faith that I had never experienced before. That next summer I gave my first sermon at the congregation I was raised in, in front of many family and friends. At 19 years old, everyone was surprised at the evidence of my firm belief, my emphasis on God’s sovereignty and high standard of scripture. After the service, my grandad approached me and let me know that I may have a pastor calling. Before this, I had never really considered the idea of becoming a pastor.
The church my wife and I are members of has been incredibly instrumental in my pastor calling and in developing me as a teaching leader. My pastor has helped me learn how to prepare for sermons and the struggle of ministry. He even allowed me the opportunity to teach both in Sunday school and during our corporate worship. In addition, they have many ways in which we serve our community. Giving me the ability to live out my faith has been a blessing beyond compare.
Due to being married at a young age, I ended up dropping out of college during what would have been my junior year. Between working three jobs and trying to complete my coursework, I saw the potential of me being a negligent husband and so I took several priorities off my plate. Since I dropped out, I have had to start making student debt payments. The opportunity of obtaining a very cost-effective, quality education at Christian Leaders Institute to receive ministry training for my pastor calling is almost too good to be true. At the university I attended, I was accruing debt while not being taught sound doctrine. I know that with CLI, that is not something I will have to worry about.
I ask that you pray that I stay motivated. Taking classes again after having almost a year off makes the classes feel more daunting than they most likely are. In addition, I ask that you pray that while I pursue this endeavor, that I continue to be a good husband and spiritual leader for my wife. Grace and peace.
Learn about minister ordination at Christian Leaders Alliance.