We started talking yesterday a little about calling. It's interesting, a couple of the faith-based organizations I've interviewed with have asked some form of this question:
"Do you feel called to work at ABC Ministry?"
I've struggled with what calling means for years now. I remember the Sunday night at Mt. Franklin Baptist Church in El Paso when I walked down and told my pastor, Buster Reeves, that I thought God was calling me to ministry. In a conversation with him later that week I said something like "I don't think God has called me to be a pastor, because I don't think I could come up with a new sermon every week. I think he's calling me to be a youth evangelist, so I can travel around summer camps and preach the same 5 sermons over and over." Those of you who know me are probably chuckling right now at the idea that I would run out of things to say.
When I first finished at UTEP, I just knew I was called to work for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). FCA had been so influential on me as a college football player, and the FCA staff I had met back then seemed like really cool people, and I wanted to be like them. A brief phone conversation in 1989 with Dennis Conner changed all that, when he told me that I needed to raise my own support. At that time the last thing I wanted to do was raise money, so I quickly backed out of that conversation.
Later I was working at Loma Terrace Baptist Church as the Associate Pastor, and our Senior Pastor got a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling and opened a private practice. The church called me as the new Senior Pastor.
But what was God calling me to? Was God's calling to a place, an organization, a church? Or was it deeper?
It was during my years at Loma Terrace that I first started using what has become the first half of my mission: stimulating redemptive living. Then, a few years later, as I ended up back at FCA raising my own support (God's great sense of irony), I added the second phrase, kingdom investment, as I learned more about biblical stewardship. So for almost 20 years now, my personal mission has been this:
Stimulating redemptive living and kingdom investment.
This is what God has called me to. And it's more about who I am and how that flows into what actions I take, than it will ever be about what job I have to pay my bills. Each of the 5 main words in my mission mean something to me, and over the next few days I want to unpack them.