Have you ever asked your pastor how she or he ended up becoming a pastor?
My guess, relying on my experience, is that very few people ask the question.
I am curious by nature, so I asked a few of our pastors what led them to enter the pastoral vocation. The nature of their call is impressive. It clearly is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Cheryle Hanna, Fourth Avenue Baptist Church, Ottawa
Cheryle Hanna is the pastor at Fourth Avenue Baptist Church in Ottawa. She distinctly heard her name being called. She understood her life was required. What this meant was not as clear to her. At first, she thought it meant she had to become more involved in the life of her church and community as she continued to work in her engineering profession. It wasn’t until later, when through a vision, she recognized God wanted her to serve him in pastoral ministry. Through the support of her family and church, she went to seminary.
Pastor Ben Emery, Calvary Baptist Church, Gravenhurst
Benjamin received his call while he was a soldiers’ instructor at a military base. A comparatively new Christian, he committed his future to God in prayer for a full year. During that period of discernment, the Holy Spirit led him to understand that it was time to leave the military and go to seminary. This was revealed to him as he served and taught the congregation. His joy doing this kept increasing while his passion for the military diminished. Seeking confirmation that this was a true call, Benjamin approached three trusted Christians for confirmation. They did so without reservation.
Pastor Karen Wong, Montreal City West Baptist Church
Coming from a traditional Chinese family, Karen first encountered God at eight years old. However, unable to attend church, it was during her college years that God powerfully revealed himself. She committed to follow her Saviour with the encouragement of her pastor. She quickly sensed God had a special place for her but she was unsure for what. Nevertheless, she submitted and went to seminary. It was in her second year that she understood her call to be a shepherd to his people. Completing her studies, she returned to Montreal, called as a pastor of the church that had sent her to study. Still feeling inadequate for this calling, God spoke to Karen to confirm that she was indeed called. He used the texts from 2 Timothy 1: 6-8 and 2 Corinthians 12:9 to provide her with the validation of her call. She has not ceased relying on God’s leading and will be ordained soon.
Pastor Dave Stewart, Harmony Road Baptist Church, Oshawa
Dave calls himself a reluctant follower. It was while a member and student leader of his youth group that his youth pastor identified the evidence of a call in Dave. Facing much opposition from home, he did not pursue this call. Even though he attended Tyndale, it was not with the intention of going into pastoral vocation. Following graduation, he traveled through Europe on a long backpacking adventure. The Spirit opened Dave’s heart to see what was missing in Europe: a strong, healthy church with strong community ministry. He knew at that moment he was called to ensure the church in Canada remained strong. Still reluctant to pursue pastoral ministry, he turned his focus to becoming a teacher. God, however, was not finished in pursuing Dave. As he was to write his entrance exam, an insert from an old church bulletin fell out of a drawer. The title of the sermon was “Doing God’s Will.” Even though Dave could not remember the sermon, he knew this was the Spirit speaking. Instead of writing the exam, he made the decision to apply for seminary!
Of course, there is more to these stories. It is clear however, that the Holy Spirit had a hand in each pastor’s call to vocational ministry. This call was also confirmed by others. While it took some time for some to understand the nature of the call, God did not give up pursuing them. He used and continues to use many means to be heard. Is it possible that God may be calling you or someone you know?