by Don Schiemann
On January 13, 1914, Ernest Shackelton published the following notice: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.” Five thousand applications were received in response to this notice from which 27 men were selected for the great adventure of crossing Antarctica. What in the world would possess men to volunteer willingly to serve under such perilous conditions with such uncertain outcomes?
St. Paul, the great apostle, missionary and pastor wrote of his ministry: “Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:25-28). He almost makes the “great adventure of crossing Antarctica” sound like a cakewalk, doesn’t he?
What would possess anyone to undertake the vocation to which Paul was called? Why would a man consider the pastoral office for his life’s vocation? Why would any man or woman look to serve as a Lutheran teacher or a director of parish services? Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, especially not for the faint of heart. But is it for you?
I remember when I was first confronted with that question. I was thirteen years old at the time. My confirmation pastor, while he was visiting our family, turned to me and asked, “Have you ever thought of becoming a pastor?” He planted a seed which never left. And now, after serving 37 years in the holy ministry, I pose the question to you, dear reader. Have you ever thought of becoming a pastor, a Lutheran teacher, a director of parish services? Or if this is not where God is leading you, do you know of someone who should consider one of these vocations?
Could it be that God wants you or someone you know to share the good news of the Gospel in ministry to His people and in mission to the lost? The simple fact is that God has chosen to use people to share the word of life with others. The Bible says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15).
Could it be that God wants you or someone you know to share the good news of the Gospel in ministry to His people and in mission to the lost?
I remember the many questions and doubts that plagued me as I considered the possibility of preparing for the pastoral ministry. Am I too young? (Some will ask “Am I too old?”) Will I be able to stand up before a congregation and preach? Do I have the academic ability and stamina to make it through the rigorous academic and practical seminary training? Will any congregation even want me as their pastor when there were so many other pastors out there who, in my opinion, were giants in the ministry?
No doubt, you will have questions as well. The pastoral office, the teaching and diaconal ministry, are not for everyone. But I would challenge you or the person you think should consider this to take this matter to the Lord in prayer. Seek His will. Study His Word (especially 1 Timothy 3:1-13). Listen to His people. Follow His leading. And if you would like to explore it further, call me at the District Office in Edmonton. We’ll go for coffee. We’ll talk and pray about it. Is God preparing you for the “greatest of all adventures?”
Rev. Don Schiemann is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada.