I did not want to become a pastor.
People always said when I was a kid, “You’re going to become a pastor just like your dad.”
That annoyed me so much. How uncreative is that- just do exactly what your dad does. I wanted to be my own person. Have my own identity.
The first real job I wanted was to be an oceanographer. Then it expanded to wanting to do zoology. I even did the research to see how much they made and everything. Eventually, I wanted to become an animator. That was the big dream. I would draw and do voices. I had it all mapped out. I knew what shows I was going to make and what characters were going to be in it. Most of them were based on the stories I would tell my younger brother and sister. I would get lost in the stories as I would tell dramatically tell them. Most times I didn’t even know where the stories were going. I would just start and let my imagination take me wherever it wanted. Story time was a fantastic ride. I started telling the stories to our friend Stephanie and then on the school bus to my schoolmates. Everyone I told my stories to loved them. (In fact one kid in school even copied them. That was annoying.) I looked forward to getting older and making them into cartoons.
All the while, people kept saying, “You’re going to be like your dad when you grow up, a pastor.”
I saw how people treated my dad. I saw people getting angry at church and having an attitude. I saw the power struggle of church politics. I heard the stories, including the time when my dad’s tires were slashed during a church board meeting. I had no interest in that life.
I started working on a few of my cartoons. One was about my favorite Bible story, Samson. The other was “Chipmunk High”. I had characters drawn out. I had voices and dialogue recorded. For “Chipmunk High” I started animating the scenes. But as I worked on them I realized that this was much more work than I anticipated. (I didn’t realize at the time that there has only been one person who has ever done a complete animated movie by himself, and he died before it was released.) I was getting discouraged at the daunting task of making these cartoons.
During that time, at the age of 15, I was assigned in my church to preach one of the sermons for the youth week of prayer. I had preached a couple of times before, so I was willing to do it again. I had already prepared the entire sermon, but while I was riding in a subway train, going over the sermon in my head, a thought came to mind. I didn’t want to preach this sermon the way I have preached before. I didn’t want to preach this sermon normally. What if… what if I preached it the way I would tell stories to my younger brother and sister? What if I preached it with animated voices? I started to get excited as I began to rethink all the stories from my sermon in this style. It was like some eureka moment. This could work.
I preached the sermon and it went great. People were captivated, followed along, and laughed just like when I told stories on the school bus. My dad and others were surprised, because that was not what I did in practice. My dad was thrilled and was so encouraging.
My peers as well as older church members all said positive things. (Years later I heard that some people had some not so nice things to say, but their message never got to me. I’m so glad it didn’t.)
I was so excited. So I told God, “Fine, I will become a pastor. I can see myself using most of my talents for you this way.”
Later on that year when I actually gave my life to God, it became more evident of God’s calling in my life. I know it was kind of backwards- deciding to become a pastor and then giving my life to God, but that’s how God worked.
How is God calling you in your life? Have you been denying your calling? Will you answer God’s call for you today?