During my freshman year of college at Anderson University in Indiana, as I was majoring in chemistry and physics and looking towards a career in chemical engineering…it happened.
Being called to ministry wasn’t a new idea for me. My dad was pastor. My grandfather had been a pastor. Even my great grandfather had been a pastor and district superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. But up to this point, although others had encouraged me with comments about considering full-time ministry, I had not directly sensed God was calling me to the rank of clergy.
But then just a few weeks into the second semester of calculus, chemistry, physics and few other fun classes…through some confirmation I experienced within the context of my church community, God made it clear that my path was about to change.
Fast forward about 15 years and I find myself packing up all my books and office accoutrements at Beavercreek (now known as Be Hope) Church of the Nazarene and putting a season of youth ministry in the rear view mirror so to speak. What should’ve been a great final chapter in my youth ministry career at a great church with a fantastic team of people was cut short. For a variety of reasons, we chose to leave Beavercreek after just over a year of ministry there.
And the Calling became quite blurry during the next 12-18 months.
Fast forward again about 15 years. My time in college ministry is about to catch up with the time I spent as a youth pastor.
A couple of nights ago, I found myself at the church that represents the end of my identity as a youth pastor. We celebrated the ordination of several young pastors which included my kids’ current youth pastor, Blake Swanson (at Springdale Nazarene Church). As Blake and these others were prayed over, ordained and commissioned to live lives worthy of the calling, I was re-inspired to consider my own ordination which occurred in Columbus, OH back in 2000. I am still called to preach, teach, evangelize, disciple, and shepherd those whom God entrusts to my care.
Not everyone is “Called” to vocational ministry. But as Os Guiness points out in his book “The Call” all Christians are called to find and fulfill the central purpose of their lives. That is the primary calling, whereas vocation is one’s secondary calling. The primary calling infuses ones secondary calling (your vocation, career, “job”) with significance, meaning and purpose.
As I walked through the doors of Be Hope Church of the Nazarene and drove back to Cincinnati, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s sustained and sustaining Call on my life. Ever since 2006, when I left Beavercreek the first time and began to question my calling, I have wrestled with a sense of failure and regret for that season of life and ministry. But maybe some healing happened there this week as I was reminded of how faithful God has been and how I still want to be like Jesus!
Chris currently serves as the Campus Mission Coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene while working for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, helping churches engage more effectively and intentionally in college ministry.