the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Discernment

I don't think it ever stops. I am continually asking God, "What is it that you want me to do, Lord?" Of course there are daily and weekly questions, but even the big question about calling seems to keep coming up. Back in the '90's I struggled for several years before I fully understood that God was calling me to the pastoral ministry.

My first opportunity came with the church where I am still serving. I didn't want to be a bi-vocational pastor. I wanted to be a full-time pastor. I couldn't live on what the church could pay so I accepted the bi-vocational pastorate as God's call for me at that time. I hoped and prayed that one day God would give me a full-time church.

A few years back, I got laid off from my secular job. I used that time to search for a full-time church. Nothing ever came of it. Then I landed my current job with the State of Georgia, managing large state funded construction projects. This job continues to offer me opportunities for advancement.

I have posted a few times here on this blog, how tired I am. I have complained about being over workded and whined incessantly, yada, yada, yada. Those bouts of self-pity are part of the discernment process. As I studied for and composed my sermon for today's service, I found myself writing these words:
But we are like Peter, and the other Disciples. We only hear what we want to hear: “Lord, what would you have me do with my life?” Oh, OK, I understand, you want me to be comfortable. You want me to be safe. You want me to be protected from the unclean of this world. You don’t want me to take any risks. You don’t want me to be seen by my peers as one who is foolish. You want me to be popular."
The title of my sermon is "Are you listening? Do you believe what you hear?" After completing the sermon, I sat in the chair at my computer, closed my eyes and listened. Here is what I heard.

I am called to be the pastor of this church. I am called to work at the state, managing construction projects. I am called to live in the tension between being a pastor and a project manager. Like Peter, I was hearing only what I wanted to hear. But Jesus responded gently and compassionately but also with the uncompromising truth.
For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

Thanks be to God!

3 Comments:

Blogger HeyJules said...

Isn't it funny how you can be so upset about something until HE tells you "Stay put. You're right where I want you..." and then all of a sudden, the world is good again.

I LOVE that about Him. : )

2/26/2006 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Tina said...

Oh my. Have you been reading my diary? I, too, have been a whiner about not being able to be the full-time pastor here. Then, when I see the ways in which he uses me in my other job, I often think he just wants to fwap me in the head and say "See there? Just trust Me!"

2/27/2006 9:14 PM  
Blogger Pilot Mom said...

Sometimes it is difficult to really listen to Him when what He is saying isn't matching up with what what we are desiring.

I'm glad you've listened...I'll pray for a willing spirit. :)

2/28/2006 2:26 AM  

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