I recently conversed with a young man who is thinking seriously about pursuing a call to pastoral ministry. I am excited for him and the things that God is doing in his life. He has been deeply impressed by a strong youth pastor who has made a tremendous impact on him. He also was impacted by a recent mission trip to Mexico.
As I spoke with him I shared just a few thoughts from my perspective. I said that pastoral ministry can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling callings imaginable; and one of the most heart-breaking. There are moments, even seasons, when it seems like God is on the move and the enemy is on the run. Everything seems to fall into place and the ministry is powerful. There are other times when your heart breaks because of the rebellion of hard hearts, the setbacks of unforeseen circumstances, the discouragement of broken relationships without reconciliation.
Yet if you stick it out long enough, taking it one day at a time, year by year, you will begin to experience something very unique to pastoral ministry: perspective. Little children will have grown up into teens and then young adults. Many will marry and have children of their own. There will be times of joyous memories to savor. So rewarding, so beautiful. It is the hope and the reality of those times, along with the assurance that God is sovereign and faithful, that gives me strength to press on, especially in the dark seasons. And make no mistake. While the beautiful mountain top experiences are glorious to behold, they do not consist of the normal everyday realities of life. We live life in the mundane. With contentment, joy, peace and hope we live out the everyday realities (or we ought to), but we cannot possibly sustain a continual feeling of mountaintop ecstasy. We have to come back to earth. And sometimes, that return to everyday reality can disillusion, especially when trials occur.
I looked him in the eye and said I would be praying for him. I asked him if I had scared him off and he laughed and said no. But I think he knew I was speaking from my heart and from my own experience.
If you are considering following a call into any kind of ordained ministry, pastoral, missionary, evangelist, and so on, know this: God knows your heart and your future. Ask God for wisdom and be sure to place people around you who will help you to consider the ramifications of such a vocation. It is serious business worth a prolonged season of prayerful accountability and vetting.