One of the anchors in my calling to vocational gospel ministry was God’s calling in my life to feed others with the word of truth, not just getting fed by it & getting full myself.
I felt the Spirit speak to me in this way when He called me in January 2006 through Galatians 6:6-10, and I heard it reiterated in December 2006 through Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. In my personal study of God’s word and the doctrine of God, I was convinced that I am called to be a sower, a planter, a feeder of sheep–a shepherd, counselor, and shepherd.
However, through the public worship services and Sunday classes at my home church, it was a different story. I had been feeding others for many years, and I was longing to be fed.
I love my “home” church. I had been going there weekly from its early days of inception in 1988 (when I was a wee tot), until August 2007 when I left for Southern Seminary. I have seen every Senior Pastor come and go; every “English Pastor” come and go; I have seen how some things never change and how thankfully some things do. Through my home church, I heard about Jesus and his atoning death for me; it was here that I came to faith and repentance in Christ my Lord; it was here that I grew in my own faith, and ??was given opportunities to serve God.
I had led music for worship services at least once a month from 1997 until 2007. I had taught many Bible studies, coordinated fellowship programs, activities, camps, and church retreats. I had taught Sunday School, and spent many hours planning outreach events and evangelistic meetings. Over the years since coming to faith and being baptized, you could say that I was “spent,” beginning to run on empty, in need of being fed. Sunday sermons at my home church became times when I hungered for more, for deeper, for a greater intensity and conviction from the message of the day.
While away for seminary studies in Louisville, KY, I found a wonderful, small church that valued authenticity, community, and reverence. It wasn’t one of those big, hip churches; but the whole mission and programs of the church was centered around the gospel of Christ preached on Sunday mornings. And preaching my pastor did well. The preaching was encouraging, convicting, applicable, piercing even to a church full of ~400 seminary students who hunger for God’s Word, along with handfulls of college students and “local” converts from “the hood” that was the neighborhood.
Coming back home, in between preaching engagements at churches I have candidated for, I long to be fed on those Sundays I am not preaching. Yes, I long to be invited to my home church to preach. Yet it is difficult as a preacher to not criticize every sermon I hear and “grill the preacher for lunch”. I have had to learn humility the hard way, knowing that all preachers are imperfect humans–myself included.
Nevertheless, this preacher needs to be fed, and when Sunday after Sunday I do not get fed, I may go elsewhere to be fed, besides “home.” I am learning how to listen to bad sermons, but I also need to hear wholesome sermons so that I may listen and obey my Lord more faithfully.