by Jordan Luther, Zion congregation
I was told that I would become a pastor. Not by any one person. Just by everyone. In the tight-knit, southern community of my upbringing, it is not uncommon for adults to forecast the vocations of children.
Grade school teachers would send notes home to my parents with remarks like, “He’ll make a good pastor someday.” The babysitter often mentioned to my parents how the way I played with the other kids reminded her of a pastor. My aunts and uncles, several of whom are pastors themselves, would defer to me to say grace before family meals.
No matter where I went, the comparison followed. My recollections of childhood are fundamentally linked to friends, family, neighbors, and strangers telling me that I will become a pastor.
Though many noticed pastoral gifts in me in my early childhood, I did not interpret these gifts as a call. I insisted to everyone that my call was more likely to the Major Leagues as a professional baseball player or in the rodeo as a bull rider. Those seemed like more attractive options to me. However, unbeknownst to me, a small seed had been planted in my heart.
The adults in my life did not plant the seed. Rather, I believe God had planted it there and entrusted my community to water it and give it a chance to grow. Every time someone affirmed pastoral gifts in me, this seed received life-altering rain.
Eventually, this seed emerged from the depths of my heart into the forefront of my consciousness. It was time for me, and the rest of the world, to see what God had planted in me.
I remember I was in church the first time I truly felt God calling me into a life of ministry. Our children’s minister was teaching a lesson on the different gifts Christ left the church. He began by reading, “The gifts he gave were that some would be…” (Ephesians 4:11, NRSV). When the phrase, “pastors and teachers,” was read aloud, I felt a warm sensation start in my chest and consume my entire body. It was as if hearing those words awakened the seed that was buried deep within me.
I remember sharing with our children’s minister what I felt; I remember explaining that I believe God is calling me to become a pastor. He agreed. So did my parents and our pastor when I shared the same experience with them later that same day.
This is the moment when I felt called to ministry.
The rest of my story of call is best summarized as watering the seed. I am grateful that my church, family, and community did not stop watering the seed after I expressed my initial sense of call. The church in particular has been there for me as I continue to grow into my calling, giving me space to learn and fail through the support of encouraging relationships.
If I can recommend any advice from my call story, it is this: water the seed. Water the seed in yourself and others. For who knows what God has planted in our hearts until we give it a chance to grow.