This week marks the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Pastors and lay people from all over the state will gather at Oklahoma Baptist University to . . . to be honest, I am not quite sure what they do. When I served on a church staff, my pastor always attended these meetings and made me stay home to cover his bases.
The job of a pastor is far from easy. Pastors get to see the best of the best and the worst of the worst. What makes it so difficult is that we are all broken human beings trying to do the perfect will of God. Sometimes we get it right, and other times we fail miserably. That’s why I believe every pastor needs a good sense of humor.
Once, an elderly man in our church became seriously ill and was taken to the hospital. Not only was this man ill, he was nearly deaf. That morning, our senior pastor asked our brand-new associate pastor to go to the hospital to visit this church member. The pastor explained that his associate would have to talk loudly because the man was extremely hard of hearing.
A few minutes after our new staff member left, we got a call from the family asking if we could visit the man at the assisted living center because he had been released from the hospital about an hour ago. This was the pre-cell phone era, so we had to let nature take its course.
Wanting to succeed in his new position, our associate pastor walked confidently into the hospital room, leaned down and yelled, “HOW ARE YOU?”
When the man didn’t respond, he continued, “I AM BROTHER JOHN FROM THE FIRST CHURCH OF THE FROZEN CHOSEN. THE PASTOR HAS SENT ME TO CHECK UP ON YOU.”
The patient grimaced as the man leaned further and further into his face.
“WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO PRAY FOR YOU?”
Slowly, the man nodded his head, afraid something worse might happen if he didn’t.
“DEAR LORD, HEAL OUR BROTHER, AMEN!”
The associate pastor returned to the office, so proud of the good job he had done . . . until the secretary told him he needed to leave again and visit the right person this time. I have always wondered what the other patient told his family about the screaming preacher who showed up in his room that day.
Another time, this same associate pastor was given the task of performing the funeral of a person who had no church affiliation. He had one small problem: he wouldn’t have a chance to meet with the family before the service. He walked up to the pulpit just in time to look over the obituary, where he saw the name of the deceased listed as “Doris.”
The associate pastor stood and in his best funeral voice began to relay what a wonderful woman Doris was. She had so many incredible qualities and was loved by all. People wept as he delivered a beautiful eulogy on the goodness of a woman like Doris.
At the end of a funeral service, it is customary for the pastor to come down front and stand at the head of the casket while friends and family pay their final respects. When the casket lid was lifted, the associate pastor took a quick glance at the deceased. Imagine his surprise when he realized that Doris was . . . a man. He has never lived that one down.
Mom and Dad, when you ask your kids what they want to be when they grow up, help them explore what God may be saying to them about ministry. Has He placed a calling on their lives?
After all these years, I am still not sure what a “calling” is. I only know that somewhere deep in my life, God began to whisper that He wanted me. He brought people alongside me to help me understand and clarify that calling. In the end, I knew that my dominion would be to teach and preach His Word.
Along the journey, I have held many others jobs: printer, photographer, bus driver, welder, carpenter, farm hand, soldier, magician and more. No matter what else I did, God’s calling never left me. In the end, I said “yes” to what He wanted me to do.
Isn’t that what you want for your children—that they say “yes” to whatever God wants?
By the way, if your child senses a call to be a pastor, please instruct them to check the name on the door of the hospital room, to take time to speak with the family before performing a funeral . . . and to let their associate pastor go to the annual meeting.