Saturday, April 26, 2008

An accidental pastor

It was never in my plans to become a pastor. Going further back, it was never in my plans to join the Church either. Obviously something happened to change that and this is (a condensed version of) that story.

See, there I was enjoying my IS career when I meet a nice family with an even nicer daughter. Well, they invited me to go to church with them and for some reason I said yes and started attending regularly. It didn't take long and I got baptized and then not too long after that I received the Holy Ghost. To prove that good things come in threes, I also married their daughter. (You saw that one coming right?)

So, there I am, a fully signed up, card carrying holy roller. Not in the plan, but it felt pretty good and I was happy with that. I love the people of God and enjoyed being in the family.

Next, I felt directed of the Lord to study. I wasn't sure what to study, so I asked my pastor and he directed me to study our organization's ministerial home study material. There was lots of good material there and for the next couple of years I enjoyed studying and reading.

A few years after that, I felt directed of the Lord again to up and move to the next state over and take a job at the big employer in that city. This I did and discovered that we had a home missions church in that place. The lovely Sister Geek and I attended the church and helped out however we could, including at least six months of teaching the mid-week lesson because pastor had to work second shift. It was around this time that I started saying things like "I'm glad I'm not a pastor!"

Roll forward a couple of years and I get duped, err, blessed with being appointed as the editor for the district newsletter. This is not something that I'd ever done before, but the district board bribed, err, encouraged me by supplying a brand new Mac computer with all of the software I would need for the job. I was then also required to attend district functions including several minister only events. I remind you that I was not licensed at that time, so it was quite an honor to be invited to such events. After having the opportunity to spend so much time with pastors and other ministers, I was more certain than ever that I did not want to be a pastor. This feeling was due to the behind the scenes view that I was given of pastoring, not from any lack of respect of the position of people filling those positions. The more I saw of pastoring, the more I realized that it was real work and involved a good deal more than just droning on for a while on Sunday mornings.

Things were good, albeit much busier now that I was the district editor. My anonymity was an early casualty and I quickly had to get used to folks recognizing me at events, coming over and commenting on the newsletter. Thankfully the comments were almost uniformly appreciative, so that helped.

Sister Geek and I, by now, were the longest continuously attending saints in the congregation and were still helping out in every way we could. As pastor was busy with his own district level position that meant lots of helping was required. Sister Geek was regularly playing piano during mid-week services and I was starting to get lots of preaching practice filling in for pastor.

Looking back, after the way that everything had been building up, we should have seen it coming, but it was a complete and total surprise when it happened. We had been invited over for lunch after Sunday service (and the annual business meeting if I remember correctly) and we were relaxing after an excellent meal when our pastor told us that the Lord had told them that they were to move to a different city on the other side of the state and take the pastorate there. This was quite a shock to us, but not as much of a shock as when they explained that the Lord had also told them that we should take over the pastorate for this city! We were pretty much speechless for the next half an hour or so. After that, I got right to work seeking the Lord and asking for a confirmation of this call. After a couple of weeks at a Sunday afternoon prayer meeting, I got the confirmation that I sought. This was the start of life getting much more interesting.

Now that I was confirmed by the Lord that I should take over the pastorate of the church I was attending, there was the small matter of not being a licensed minister. I got my confirmation in mid-March and needed to take over the church by July. Thank goodness the Lord had already caused me to get all of my required studying out of the way years before. Our current district had a couple of extra requirements and I was able to go through them in short order, so I was meeting the district board in June and was approved for my local license (the first level in our organization). I took over the pastorate in July 2007.

It has been an interesting journey since last summer. There are so many things that you don't learn about pastoring from any other source except real life. I suppose that those who have an opportunity to be an assistant pastor for a while first may have it easier, but I didn't get to do that, so I'm not in a position to be certain.

I like the term accidental pastor because it reflects the fact that while I do now love the role and even the responsibilities that come with it, it was not something that I sought out in any way.


Anonymous said...

I have a good friend from our parochial school days who went to a LDS meeting about the same way as you describe. I expect he'll be a bishop in a few years.

Clearly the Lord works in mysterious ways

Pastor Geek said...

@fishtoprecords: And with me, he seems to give me very short notice. I know folks who know what they're doing many years in advance. Me? I get a few months. Oh well.