Pastor Ministry Dream
My name is Michael Warren, I was raised in Orlando, Florida, and have never been outside the U.S. I remember clearly a story my pastor once told me about his preconversion days as a high school teacher. He had a foreign exchange student, a Christian missionary from a third world country, in one of his classes for over a semester. Towards the end of the young missionary’s visit, my pastor asked the young man what he was going to tell his folks back home about America, expecting him to say something great about our country. The young man told him, “I’m going to tell them that the people of America are persecuted with prosperity.” He thought, “Oh this kid, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” The missionary continued, “I’ve been with Christian families on Thanksgiving; meal on the table, and nobody asks a blessing before everyone starts eating. I’ve been in a Christian home on Christmas and watched kids fly down the stairs and tare into presents… where I come from, if we even get a gift, I promise you, there’ll be a prayer first.” This is a large part of America’s spiritual decline: material luxury to the point that we are living better than kings did in past centuries. With so much ease and comfort in life, harsh realities are not faced as often. This is compounded by false teachings about the origin of life and the belief that everything can be explained with science. There are still patches of blessed people and places, but much of America is stiff-necked and spiritually barren.
Being raised in a Christian home is no guarantee that one will grow up to be a settled Christian: “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are AGED they will not depart from it.” The Proverb implies there may very well be a period in which the child does not follow the path they were taught. This was my case. Even though our church building was about 45 minutes away, it was almost considered a sin if we missed a Sunday morning or Wednesday evening service for any reason. Despite having confessed my faith in Christ and being baptized into the church at 11 years old, I was following the group or going through the motions instead of being genuine. Over the next few years, the emotionally tumultuous years known as “pre-teens” and early teens took a toll on me: we moved to a different part of Florida away from everything I knew, the church was much smaller, and I got my heart broken. After having been depressed for half a year and feeling no purpose in life, at the age of 15 I almost took my life. When no one was home, I slit my wrist with a steak knife: I do not remember any pain, only the crushing realization that I still had family, both blood and in Christ near and far, that loved me and had no idea what I was going through. I realized that life is not all about me. I quickly cleaned myself up as best I could. A few months later, I was at a church campground with a whole lot of church family. Long story short, one evening I was compelled to get alone with the Lord. I went down to an isolated pavilion, cried, and prayed for three hours begging for forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I felt the Lord’s presence at that time and in the following few days like never before; I felt assurance and peace. Since then, moments that I feel that close to the Lord are far and few even though I am pressing toward the goal as best I can, but He makes all the trials and pain worth the wait!
My pastor ministry dream is to lead a church that loves the Lord Jesus and seeks to please Him in all that they do. I also often feel compelled to write my lessons from the Bible, and hope someday to publish them in a book, or multiple books. Pastors, among other things, are tasked with guarding their flock, an occupation which I am taking seriously now before I am ordained. Pastors are also to do the work of an evangelist (2Ti. 4:5), which is also an occupation I take seriously at work with coworkers and among friends.
What started my desire to minister was the efforts of my former pastor, who nudged me in the right direction. He introduced me to theology as a discipline, and the effort it takes to preach on a regular basis. Though he is now pastoring another church right now, he and I still keep in touch.
Where I currently live and plan to stay, Lord willing, there are many churches in this area. In trying to evangelize to those who are not church-goers, finding reasons to share why people should attend/visit your church over others is difficult, especially when the church down the road has a bigger building, more people, and a coffee store inside the church building.
I have my parents to thank for “training me up in the way I should go.” I will never forget the times my mom led some simple Bible studies with my sister and I, or the time I was looking for my dad, he was in his closet praying, and I eavesdropped for a few moments to hear those most reverential and tearful words of prayer.
My denomination does not consider Bible degrees or seminary training to be necessary for ministry. All focus is on the apprenticeship model of ministry training (2Ti. 2:2), the student’s own efforts to walk with God and know His Word, and the congregation’s approval. However, I believe earning a CLI Diploma can only serve to pastor ministry dream and further my ministry and deepen my knowledge of God’s Word.
Lately I stand in much need of prayer to be strong and joyful. It seems like I have been doing far more sowing than I have reaping. Add to that my tendency to feel defeated and become discouraged, all of my strength and joy is gone. Lord knows I have studied and do know how to fend off Satan’s attacks on my mind and heart, but he tweaks his strategy just enough so that it feels like each attack is different when in reality they are not. I have recently started communication with a dear friend and brother in Christ to be accountability partners especially for being strong and letting God’s joy rule our hearts. Also, a very dear friend of mine who has been the source of much of my motivation to keep pressing toward the goal has been diagnosed with cancer, and is in need of prayer. I know the Glory awaiting her with the Lord is far greater, but her family needs the stability she brings. Please pray for Jody’s healing.
Read more stories on Facebook…