I was frightened and said, “Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure enough to speak to God, and I live among people who are not pure enough to speak to him. But I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful.”
There was a fire on the altar. One of the Seraph angels used a pair of tongs to take a hot coal from the fire. Then the angel flew to me with it in his hand. Then he touched my mouth with the hot coal and said, “When this hot coal touched your lips, your guilt was taken away, and your sins were erased.”
Then I heard the Lord’s voice, saying, “Who can I send? Who will go for us?”
So I said, “Here I am. Send me!” Isaiah 6:5-8 Easy-to-Read Version
When I was a freshman in high school I believed God was calling me to serve Him in pastoral ministry. I joined a group of students who traveled to churches on Sabbath where we provided worship services. My roommate, Curtis, was instrumental in encouraging me to become part of this ministry group.
I find it interesting that circumstances so subtle often alter the direction of our lives, causing us to make choices we might never have considered. The ministry group ceased to function after my freshman year. Our sponsor left to accept the position of Principal of another school, and my roommate, a high school senior, had graduated.
I had changed in ways that are still not clear to me to this day. My relationship with God was being slowly severed as I entered the gray Valley of Questions which concerned the depth of His intimacy, His passion for me, or for anyone for that matter. I never stopped believing God existed, I just didn’t see any evidence He was interested in me or my family. The circumstances my family were living through at that time would have stretched the mustard seed faith of any person and it did mine.
As my life experiences in those teen years altered my perceptions, I seemed to change and so did my belief in what I was to do with my life. I had no clue as to what I was to do with what little I had to offer. I was convinced I had nothing an employer would want. My greatest talent seemed to be that I could milk cows, not a very auspicious career aspiration. Yet after high school I spent several years working at dairies, milking cows as my career choice. I even considered becoming a dairy herdsman.
Have you ever considered how God has moved in and around your life, managing the affairs of your life in ways that accomplished what He had planned for you all along? There was a preacher who instructed his parishioners to “… look for the fingerprints of God all over your life.”
I spent 20 years as a customer service representative and route salesman for a uniform company, and about 2 years as a service writer for an automotive repair shop. Both of these positions provided me with valuable experience in public relations and developed my natural people skills. They offered opportunities to learn to deal with difficult people and gave me an understanding that there is more to people than what they allow us to see. Everyone has a story we know nothing about.
Why would I walk you through this personal journey that brought me to the place where I was finally ready to receive the call God had always intended for me? This is the reasoning for my desire to have you engage in my process. I did not come into the role and responsibility of Pastor in the traditional manner. My education consisted of years of practical experience in dealing with people, a willingness to be vulnerable about my relationship and process in God’s Grace, several theology classes from a prominent and accredited university, and years of teaching Sabbath School classes.
It’s not a very impressive resume, is it? I mean, honestly, would you consider hiring anyone who sent you a resume with my experience as their recommendation for hiring a new Pastor? Not many were willing to accept my resume when I sent it out in 2001. The main issue was, of course, my lack of a degree, the fact that I was sorely lacking in formal education.
However, there were also positive responses. I had interviews in two different states and was hired in October of 2001. I was ordained in January of 2008, a day I will never forget. There were plenty of naysayers who predicted I would never be ordained because of my deficit in formal education. Even now after 13 years of Pastoral Ministry there are still those who question my calling because I don’t meet their requirements for being equipped to serve as the Pastor of a church.
Therefore, this is my question, who decides whether one is qualified to answer God when He lays a calling on their heart? Who decides how another person becomes qualified to serve in whatever capacity God decides He needs them? A question that is particularly pertinent to today is what gender is qualified to be placed as an ordained minister? It is time for the Christian community to recognize we are no longer living in the first century, therefore we cannot be bound by the rules of cultures which existed 2000 years ago. The needs of today’s church are much different from what they were even when compared to 100 years ago.
So who makes the decision? I acknowledge I support the traditional route as the one most people need to pursue when they are called by God. I discourage any who seek my advice from following the process God designed for me. But I do believe God calls and equips those He has chosen to serve in positions of pastoral leadership, even when they happen to be women! So why not ordain women, recognizing their calling by God when the majority of those who attend church are women, single women with children. This alone suggests the need for those who are able to place themselves in the lives of those who need them most.
The Seventh-day Adventist denomination in its recent 5-year cycle business meeting voted to deny ordination to women. The denial was based on nothing more than prejudice consistent with cultures who deny the ability of God to call and equip females into the ministry as ordained Pastors. The arguments based on false biblical principals to deny ordination to a group based on gender do not honor God or His ability to call any whom He desires to serve Him in whatever capacity He deems best. Just as God is able to provide the education He knows is needed by the one He is calling, so He also knows what gender will best serve Him in whatever ordained pastoral ministry He calls them to serve.
I have shared this because of the prejudice I have encountered in my own journey as a Pastor who doesn’t fit the traditional parameters. The prejudice exhibited against women as they seek recognition as those who are called by God is wrong. And there is no excuse or place for prejudice in any organization claiming to honor God as their final authority. Either God has the final word and the power to place anyone He desires into His ministry as a Pastor, or we need to rethink how we define our belief system.
I believe the prevailing attitude against ordaining women will continue to cause challenges within the Christian community indicative of a deeper issue. The issue reveals a lack of understanding of the needs in the body of Christ in this millennium, and in the world. If this attitude continues, the Church will continue its downward spiral and inability to connect with those who need the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
“Don’t be afraid of anyone. I am with you, and I will protect you.”
This message is from the Lord. Jeremiah 1:8 Easy-to-Read Version