At the moment I’m flying over a very flat midwestern state (is that redundant?) on my way to Kansas City, where I’m prepared to encounter some great prospective church planters (and I hope some really good BBQ as well).
For four days these brave men and women will submit themselves to a pretty intense process of evaluations, interviews, inventories, counseling sessions and leadership case studies. They will preach, share their story, share their vision. They will share their hearts, their strengths, their weaknesses, their joys, their fears. It’s a pretty naked process – not much is left unexposed.
We as assessors will do our best to listen well to them and to the Holy Spirit, and then to prayerfully make a determination as to whether church planting is the best context for them to live out their pastoral ministry. It is holy, humbling work, and none of us take it lightly.
At the end of the week nearly all the candidates will say they have been deeply blessed, regardless of whether they achieve their hoped-for outcome. They will have met God and will know themselves much better than they did before. The assessors will say the same thing. We too will come away having met God and knowing better who we are. And I must say it is a pretty amazing process – to have a group of seasoned ministers come around you, to spend several concentrated days watching and praying over you, to see you for who you are, and to speak into your calling – who wouldn’t benefit from that? I wish all pastors had the opportunity to go through a process like this, and lay leaders too for that matter.
Because at the end of the day much of our impact comes down to faithfulness to calling. Am I living as the me God created me to be? We need to continue to ask, who has God made me to be and how do I best live that out? Even for those of us who have a general sense of call (“I’m a pastor”), we need to keep asking, searching, digging. How do I best live my call? As a lead or staff pastor? As a planter or in an established church? Where and with whom will I best live out God’s specific call on my life? Calling is not something once discovered and then left alone – it’s ongoing discovery, and as God continues to reveal to us, ongoing sharpening.