I think I can say that nine months ago, I didn’t imagine I would be writing about how I believe God has called me to this place of humbly submitting myself before Church on Mill as a candidate to lead and shepherd this church.
God has been exceedingly gracious to me. I grew up in a Christian home, and accepted Christ as my savior and was baptized as a young teenager. That being said, when I went off to college, my feet didn’t cross the threshold of a church during those four years. I didn’t really want to have anything to do with God, I was rebelling against my earthly and my heavenly fathers. After graduating, God graciously placed people in my life who helped draw me back towards Christ. Through conversations with them and in reading some influential books, my faith was renewed. However, I suffered for many, many years, questioning my salvation as I struggled with guilt and shame over sin in my life. A number of years ago, by God’s grace and with loving help from other brothers here at Church on Mill, I was broken over both my sin and my attempts at somehow trying to add to what Christ has already done for me. I give thanks to God that while I was a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8). All this to say, I’m here solely by the grace of God, and because of his relentless pursuit of me.
So how is it that I now believe I’m called to be a shepherd here at Church on Mill? To be honest I’ve struggled with that question and what exactly that looks like. When I joined the Transition Team a couple of years ago, I did so because at the time I didn’t feel any particular calling to be an elder. Rather, I felt that I could serve the church through the interim time as other men spent time considering a calling. Over these past couple of years, I have felt a growing and discernible burden for this church that has led me to consider that I might after all be called to eldership. About 9 months ago I felt that God was leading me again to trust him. I decided to go through the Discovering Eldership class with the intention of both discerning the call, and using the time to help prepare for eldership should that be God’s will for me. During the four months of the class, I spent a lot of time praying about and considering in particular the words of 1 Peter 5:2 where elders are called to serve willingly and not out of compulsion. I have since become increasingly assured that God has called me to share the responsibility of shepherding this church. I’m grateful as well for the gracious encouragement of others, and believe that this encouragement is also part of God’s way of affirming the internal calling that I have sensed.
I’m keenly aware of the responsibility God places on those he calls to shepherd his church. It often makes me pause and wonder “why me?” I believe that God in his infinite patience has been preparing me, and has brought me now to a point where I can joyfully and willingly serve. I’m thankful that God isn’t finished with me, that he continues to mature me as I step out in faith, and I can only trust that God will use my weakness for his glory.
I know that should I become an elder at Church on Mill, I can’t fulfill all the responsibilities of an under-shepherd of Christ to his church perfectly. But I do look forward to giving myself to the work of helping each of us, including myself, to “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 5), and to love and care for you sacrificially as Christ has done for us.