Today is a special day to me. Twenty years ago, in response to my church’s call to serve as pastor, I was ordained in Gospel ministry. It began with an intensive inquisition by a council of pastors and other church leaders. Once they ascertained that I was competent to lead, was sound of doctrine, and lived a life becoming the Gospel, they gathered around, prayed over me, and ordained me as a pastor. This act was not the bestowal of a ministerial gift, but an acknowledgement that God had already given it. It was an affirmation by church leaders of qualification, giftedness, and readiness to be a pastor.
The next Sunday I began my ministry as a pastor. Over these past years I have often thought of that night and given thanks for the blessings of that experience. While it didn’t bestow any supernatural gift on me, (“empty hands on empty heads” in the words of Spurgeon) this affirmation of God’s call on my life did provide several significant blessings.
Today I think of . . .
- The confidence that came through the affirmation of my calling by those I respected.
- The significance of being set apart for the service of pastoring.
- The encouragement to know that some leaders who understood the unique challenges of pastoral ministry were praying for me.
- The challenge of knowing I was following in the footsteps of generations of Christians before me, personified in those who ordained me.
- The solemnity of the task I was preparing to undertake.
Being ordained as a pastor doesn’t mean I’m better than anyone else, but I value the privilege to serve in that capacity. I love the name “pastor.” Not because I desire an honored title. Not because I want to be a “lord over the God’s heritage.” But because it reminds me of the task I’ve been given: to feed the flock of God, take oversight of the flock with a ready mind, and to be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:2-4).
I pray my service will be found faithful and worthy of a crown of unfading glory.