My friend Mark Roberts recently returned from the “Ivy League Congress” in which “[s]ome 400 Ivy League students from all eight campuses gathered to be challenged and encouraged to live our their faith in the world. (The Ivy League consists of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.)”
Dr. Roberts presented on a vocational panel about being called to ministry.
These are funny, but telling graphs on the nature of planning a career when you are open to God’s call on your life:
God’s specific will is often surprising. He often leads us into avenues of service that we did not anticipate. Consider, for example, Moses’s call to deliver Israel from Egypt, or David’s call to be king, or Paul’s call to be the apostle the Gentiles. This has been the story of my life:
- When I was a freshman in college, if you had told me that I’d go to grad school in New Testament, I’d have said you were crazy, because I thought I was supposed to be a lawyer.
- When I was in grad school, if you had told me that I was going to be a pastor, I’d have said you were crazy, because I thought I was supposed to be a professor.
- When I was an associate pastor at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, if you had told me I’d be a pastor in Orange County, California, I’d have said you were crazy because I didn’t like Orange County, and I didn’t want to pastor a suburban congregation, and I didn’t want to go to a church that needed to build buildings.
- When I was a pastor at Irvine Presbyterian Church in Orange County, if you had told me I’d be working for a parachurch ministry in Texas, I’d have said you were truly out of your mind because I didn’t want to leave parish ministry and I never, ever wanted to move my family to Texas.
- When, in the early 2000s, I was writing books and articles, if you had told me my greatest influence beyond my parish would be through blogging, I’d have said you were smoking illegal substances because I had no desire to become a blogger and no belief that anybody would ever bother to read my blog if, for some odd reason, I started one.
So, there you go. God has continually surprised me in my life, calling me to ministries that I never anticipated. I suppose one might say that I wouldn’t be so surprised if I did a better job discerning God’s will in the first place. I agree. But I think most of us, if we are open to the Lord, will find that he surprises us over and over again as he directs our lives and ministries.
This is an excellent series of posts, especially as graduation season opens. Check back to MarkDRoberts.com for the rest of the series.