If you are wondering if God is calling you into a vocational ministry role then maybe this will help you.
I had a lot of dreams growing up of what I wanted to be. As a small child I wanted to be a professional football player. Size and skill would not make that possible. Then, I set my sights to be an artist or a comedian. I loved to draw and make people laugh. That didn’t work out either, but there was one career that was never on my radar.
I never wanted to be a pastor.
Not that being a pastor was a bad thing, I just saw pastors as people that weren’t real people. They had to live differently than everyone else. Growing up, my pastor was well known in the community, a strong leader and a wise sage all rolled into one. His career was not like other people who had normal jobs. He was set apart. He was my pastor. He was an honored man. The calling to be a pastor would have been like the calling to go to Mars. It just wasn’t something I saw myself ever doing. It wasn’t something I could ever see myself as worthy of doing.
It’s really interesting how God has a way of guiding your path. Growing up I went to church because my mom and dad loved Jesus and that’s just what we did. We never missed. I didn’t particularly like going to church, but when I was around 15 my Sunday School teacher, who was also one of my high school football coaches, told me one day out of the blue, “Hermann, you going to be a preacher one day.”
The seed was planted.
I had never once thought in my life about being a preacher but that little statement would be a mustard seed planted in my heart that would be watered in the coming years.
When I was 16, I begrudgingly went to church youth camp at my mom’s request.
It was at that camp that God really captured my heart.
It was during that week of my life that I gave God my “yes” to whatever He wanted from me.
It was at that camp that I heard that still small voice of God watering the seed of faith that was planted a year earlier from my coach.
I talked to my youth pastor and told him I thought God might be calling me into ministry. He committed with me to pray about it. I spent a year praying and asking God if that was what I was supposed to do. I returned to High school with a new passion to honor God with my life. I became friends with a guy I had known all my life but never really liked. His name was Carson. That summer Carson had a very similar experience at a different youth camp and was committed to being a pastor. Carson and I played football together against each other and we became inseparable friends. It’s neat how God does that. We helped lead our local Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Youth group, and we even started a morning bible study at the local McDonalds for other students to attend.
As time went by we went to junior college and Bible College together. Now I am 20 years down the road since those days in high school. Thanks to God’s mercy, Carson and I are both still Pastors. Carson is the pastor of a church in Wrens, Georgia and I am a staff pastor at a great church in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
Ministry is not at all what I had in mind at age 16. When I said yes to the call to ministry I thought I was saying yes to be a preacher. I wanted to boldly proclaim the word of God, like Billy Graham, and see thousands of people respond in faith to my great preaching. Well, it didn’t take long to find out that ministry is much different than what I had in mind. I have always loved to preach but preaching is a very small portion of what happens during the week. Preaching is what every pastor is passionate about and would do for free.
The ministry is so much more than preaching.
It can be brutal and not many people last.
The average tenure for a pastor in America is less than 2 years! Ministry is not for the faint of heart.
Here are some things I have learned over the years of what ministry really looks like. If you are contemplating a life of serving Jesus in vocational ministry then you should take time to read this list and see if God has gifted and wired you to represent Him in vocational ministry. This is what they never told me.
No one told me that I would have to visit the house of a 12-year-old boy whose mother had just been murdered and try to help him find some kind of comfort.
No one told me that people would appear to love me and my family but would turn to despise us because I might do something that they didn’t agree with.
No one told me that Church people are mostly loving and amazing but there is a small pocket in every church that are mean as angry snakes and they will spew their venom towards the pastor. You still have to love those people.
No one told me that I would get to name a baby on a mission trip in India.
No one told me what it would be like to preach at churches in Haiti that were overcrowded and dark and dusty.
No one told me about having to beg a customs agent to let the mission team I was leading into Canada because of a misunderstanding.
No one told me what it would be like to be in the room of a person who is dying and looking to you for comfort and words of peace.
No one told me about how hard it would be to preach the funerals of those you deeply love.
No one told how much joy I would feel when I got to marry young couples that I had known for years.
No one told me the joy of watching those couples I married start families and teach their children about the love of Jesus.
No one told me about the endless phone calls, visits and emails to try to help plug people into the church.
No one told me how ministry would affect my family. No one told me that when people spoke ill of me it would hurt my wife twice as much as it hurt me. No one told me that my children would always have unrealistic expectations set on them by others simply because their dad was a pastor.
No one told me how hard it would be to visit a couple that I love who just delivered a stillborn child.
No one told me what it would be like to be sick in India and try to preach through sickness in a foreign country with an interpreter.
No one told me how hard it would be to see friends who you went to Bible College with become a statistic of pastors who didn’t make it.
No one told me how it would feel to know of 1000 needs and only be able to help a few.
No one told me what it would feel like to be robbed while on a mission trip in a third world country.
No one told me that my life would consist mostly of meetings to further the work of the ministry.
No one told me that my best work would not be done in the pulpit, but in the trenches of having hard conversations with people who needed someone to be honest with them.
No one told me of the heart wrenching conversations I would have with so many couples who were on the brink of divorce that were looking to me to help them keep it together.
No one told me how hard it is to deal with suicide, how hard it is to help a family that is so destroyed and broken and angry all at once.
No one told me how hard it would be to know the words to say to comfort broken people when I was the first on the scene after tragedy struck.
No one told me about the joy I would experience to see middle school students that I had the chance to invest in grow up and serve Jesus.
No one told me about the frustration and helplessness you can feel in a church business meeting.
No one told me of the joy I would receive when I would go to the hospital to meet new babies that were born.
No one told me about how much fun it would be to work together with people I love to see a big vision come together.
No one told me about the satisfying joy of seeing a family changed by the power of the gospel.
No one told me of the countless hours of study and continuing education it would take to be a pastor.
No one told me how I would wake up each day energized to go to work knowing that the Gospel I carry can change a person’s life.
No one told me that I would get to work with some of the world’s most awesome people.
No one told me how much the church would love and embrace my family and meet our every need.
No one told me how amazing it is to baptize a new believer.
There was so much I didn’t know…I couldn’t know.
I could go on and on for days about the up and downs of this hard calling to ministry. I was told not to get into ministry unless God would allow me to do nothing else. I was told not to do it unless I was sure I was called. The life of full time vocational ministry is not always easy, but it is always worth it! I would not trade it for the world.
I am so grateful to be called Pastor.
If you are considering a call of God on your life to be a pastor or Christian leader, I would encourage you to count the cost and then remember that Jesus is worth it all.
I have had many people ask me, “What is it that you do during the week?” Well, come spend a week with me and I will be glad to show you.