I entered Harding University in the fall of 1974 as a Bible major. My studies of scripture and of the Greek language began immediately, and it was thrilling. A year or two later I had my first homiletics (preaching) class with Jerry Jones.
Fast forward to the spring of 1982 — after four years at Harding, a year of internship, and three years at Harding Graduate School — and my first full-time ministry began in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Since that spring, I’ve been a preacher. Minister. Dare I say it: “pastor”? I’ve preached, taught, studied, visited hospitals, done weddings and funerals, and walked toward Jesus with people. It’s been a great honor.
Beginning this summer, that will change. Oh, I’ll still be a minister — joining Landon Saunders in this exciting project (and as every Christ-follower is anyway!). But not a — what? — “local minister.” And I wonder if I’ve underestimated what that will do to my sense of identity. The rhythm will be different.
I know so many people, even among my circle of friends, who have made career changes. (Wince. I still don’t like to think of ministry as a career. But in one sense it certainly is. A calling. A service. A privilege. A career.) Most of them affirm that it was the right thing to do — but not always without a bit of identity crisis.
I’m going to try not to be a version of Charleton Heston, forcing people to pry the lectern from my cold, dead hands. I’m eager to find my place in the local body of Christ that is, well, less visible but equally important. Think: 1 Corinthians 12!
Anyone else out there made a mid-course change? What have you learned that’s been helpful?
(Back to “Lost History” series tomorrow or Monday.)