Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Big Announcement

A hundred years ago, when I was in my first round of pastoral training, the founder of the institute said something that stuck in my craw.

He said, "If you can do something else other than pastoral ministry, do it."

At the time, I thought it an awfully cynical remark. He seemed to be putting down the ministry, or suggesting that pastors were people who were inept at everything else and just couldn't get a "real job." Either way, I discounted it. I was caught up in a view of pastoral ministry that unconsciously cherished many bright misconceptions about what it involved and promised.

But I remembered what he said, because it bothered me.

And now, some thirty-plus years later, it still bothers me... but now I think I agree. I see it as related to 1 Timothy 3:1 — "The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task." The two Greek words translated "aspires" and "desires" (ὀρέγεται, ἐπιθυμεῖ; oregetai, epithumei) combine to depict someone with a strong drive, almost a compulsion.

So I've come to see that statement differently. I think his point wasn't that pastoral ministry is a lousy job; nor that pastors can't get "real work" (he himself was a full-time High School teacher at one point in his ministry). His point was: if you can stand doing something other than being a pastor, if you're not driven to do pastoral ministry, if it's just another job — then by all means do something else.

Which brings us to your humble servant: me.

For the past decade-plus I've primarily done-something-else. Family circumstances required that I switch gears as 1998 dawned, and I was soon providentially enabled to do some crash-training in IT and get a couple of really nice jobs in the industry.

But my heart has always yearned towards the ministry of the Word. I've just looked for ways of doing it, no matter what else I was doing: filling pulpits every chance I'm given, doing a web site, blogging, email correspondence, men's fellowship at church, conferences. All that has been a great blessing to me. But rather than satisfying my yearning to minister the Word, it has only increased my desire to be devoted to the Word full-time.

I have a great job from almost any angle: great manager, great co-workers, good work-environment, terrific benefits, nice salary, and startlingly good bonuses. I don't take it for granted, I'm grateful to God for it and how it's met our needs — and my heart just isn't in it.

By contrast, the more I fellowship with pastors, the more I've had the opportunity to encourage and help them via blogging and email, the more I'm exposed to the state and need of the church today, and the more I grow in the Lord, the more the compulsion has grown. It isn't so much what I want to do as it is what I need to do in the service of the Lord.

So after long conversations with my dear wife, coupled with hours of praying and thinking and weighing and internally debating and working it through, I've made the Big Decision:

I am seeking full-time ministry of the Word, in earnest. My hat's in the ring.

(Perhaps your reaction will be like my beloved oldest child's, as reported to me by Valerie, which amounted to, "Well, duh.")

All this to say, please pray for me and my family. And if you know of any opportunities, the answer is "Yes, I'm interested."

To be specific:
  1. Pray for God to guide our thinking, and to open doors
  2. Pray that God will put us together with a group of believers who (A) will be well-served by the gifts God has given me, and (B) can provide what is needed to support and make a home for my family.
  3. Let any seeking bodies know of my availability. We are willing to relocate and, while we have preferences, aren't ruling anything out offhand — as long as #2 obtains.
Acts 20:24 — 2 Timothy 4:1-5 — Jeremiah 20:9 — 1 Corinthians 9:16

UPDATE: I have a growing list of posts and post-ideas on tap, but plan to leave this one at the top through the rest of the week. Hope you understand! Thanks to all of you who've been encouraging to me, to you who have sent me suggestions and alerted me to openings, to you who have made my family a matter for prayer in your families and churches. I'll keep you posted.

55 comments:

Kim said...

I kind of wondered if this wasn't what the Big Announcement might entail.

I'll be praying for you and Valerie and the family as you wait on the Lord.

The Doulos said...

Godspeed in your pursuit of His call on your life and ministry. Praying with you in this. Although my knowledge of you personally is limited to blog interaction and a brief handshake at BoB, it's clear to me that you have a pastor's heart.

BTW, it is likely that our sr. pastor will be accepting a call to another church in the next month. I can certainly make sure that the search team (which I may be a member of) is aware of your potential interest.

The Clinging Vine said...

God bless you, Dan, and I'm praying for you and yours.

DJP said...

Yes, Kim, of course, you're very smart. :^P

Thanks, Doulos: I'm interested.

Thanks, Anne.

Libbie said...

hmmm. *ponders*

CraigS said...

Great news bro! Will be praying!

Alby said...

Great news!
In a curious parallel I recently made the same decision ... then about 2 months later I have been made redundant from my secular job. I'm still trying to figure out the Lord's intention there - but I am in "discussion" with a church here in Australia so perhaps I will be in full time ministry sooner than I expected.
I hope the wait for you is short.
God Bless.
Albert
http://apologies.wordpress.com/

Connie said...

Most definitely am praying for you and your family!

I'll especially be praying for your wife as she encourages and ministers to you! My dear hubby is also a man who 'aspires' and 'desires'(and like you, God has blessed and equipped)--it is a sweet joy for a wife to see her husband doing what the Lord has called Him to do!

Because I've seen a 'pastor's heart' in you via your blogging, I look forward to hearing/seeing what the Lord has for y'all!

Andrew and Carolyn said...

Praying for you and your family, Dan. May you know God's blessing and clear guidance to where he will have you serve in coming days - extremely exciting news!

Pedro said...

Certainly a loss for us (the IT community). I love the mix between IT and theology.
May God the Holy Spirit fill you with His power and use you for His own sake.
Praying for you.

DJP said...

LOL, Pedro — now THERE's a response I didn't anticipate!

Well, I'll keep a toe in as a user. And... say, maybe that's a "selling point" to prospective churches or institutions? I do pastoral ministry, AND IT support?

Hm....

CA RN to Honduras Missionary said...

You know Dan...there's always Honduras and the potential future churches that will need assistance and teaching...hmmm....

Carlo said...

Well, I have to admit a little selfishness on my part, it would mean that you would be leaving our church at some point and I do not wish that, but I realize it's not about my wishes but what the Lord has prepared for you.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

May God bless your ministry.

Terry Rayburn said...

Well, duh...

Seriously, will be praying for you, brother.

What deonominational or lack thereof guidelines are you thinking of?

Blessings,
Terry

DJP said...

TerryWell, duh...

I expected that sooner! (c:

I myself really don't have a denominational (or nondenominational) preference. It'd just have to be one in which I can BE a Bible-preaching Calvidispiebaptogelical, out loud. I think the Bible teaches elder-led church government.

Thanks very much for your prayers.

Carlo said...

I don't know of any Dispensational Calvinistic churches. I mean, true blue dispensational. I think that's where your challenge is going to be in finding enough people that will subscribe to dispensationalism and Reformed Theology.

Cindy said...

This is great news, as not surprising as it is.

DJP said...

There are a couple in the Citrus Heights area, I preached at one in Tennessee — then there's that little one in Southern Calfornia, pastored by that Mc-Something guy.

There aren't as many as there should be, Carlo, but they're around.

mikepettengill said...

very cool...very fun...very God honoring. The kingdom is better for it. You are well suited for the pulpit.

Carlo said...

Well, I don't know about Citrus Heights and Tenn. but that's why I said true blue dispensational, which I don't believe John MacArthur is. Certainly, his eschatology is, but I don't believe MacArthur is a Ryrie dispensationalist, and maybe you're not either. (MacArthur calls himself a leaky dispensationalist)

It would all depend on how dispensational you are Dan.

Puritan Man said...

Well, I don't know about Calvinist Dispensational churches, but there are plenty of PCA churches that could use a good pastor. Who knows? Maybe God will be gracious enough to give you a change of mind and, like Vader, let you come out of the dark side into the force! ;-) And BTW, I am not your father! May the force be with you young padawan!

ThirstyDavid said...

I know a place where you could come immediately and plant a church in the middle of liberal-Lutheran/Catholic/Arminian-Baptist land. Unfortunately, there's only one interested family.

ChosenClay said...

Well Dan I can't say I'm surprised, (having heard it from my lovely wife).
May the Lord bless you in this and may His light shine on you brother. I will miss your preaching and fellowship.

P.S. What Chad said! :)

Mark

LeeC said...

Well my church is full-blown Calvidispiebaptogelical. We also have a plant in Hollywood as well.

We also have had three pastors recently be called elswhere. I don't know what our status is now in regards to the balance between bringing someone in and raising up from within, but I know we do both actively.

And I think you would fit in smashingly. On the other hand it is in L.A. and all that entails from cost of living to environment.

DJP said...

Calvary Bible, in Burbank? Did you have a pastor named Dr. Grant in the 70's, and an associated Christian school? If so, I've been there! I grew up in Glendale.

LeeC said...

You kow I wasn't here then, so I don't know. I lived in San Dimas at that time.

Jack MacArthur founded it, and his son John met his wife here and preached here for his first time as well I believe.

I thought I had been blessed by the churches I had membership in in the past, and I was, but I'm in awe of how the Lord has used CBC in my life for His glory.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Your gift set and your heart is definitely in pastoral ministry.

I'm not too crazy about Evangelical Covenant Church as a denomination, but try contacting the pastoral staff at Bayside in Granite Bay. They are definitely EXPANDING in the Northern California region and looking to plant a lot of churches.

Contact me offline, if you wish.

Peace and Blessings,

Truth Unites... and Divides

Frank Turk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Turk said...

I'm against anything that causes you to blog less.

Erin said...

Oh, Brother Dan, you could be greatly used here in the Greater Portland area of Maine, although I am not aware of any openings. (Other than my well intentioned but in need of maturity church searching for a youth pastor)
We are in such great need of some GOOD churches here. If some unexpected opportunity here comes to you, please come.

DJP said...

That's awfully sweet, and encouraging, Erin. You pray; I'm willing. God can open previously-invisible doors.

Stefan said...

Dan: God bless you!

Best old chestnut of pastoral advice I've heard (addressed at someone other than myself, and I know it doesn't apply to you):

"If you're getting into pastoral ministry for the money, then you don't have the intellectual qualifications for the job." ;)

Wayne MacKirdy said...

The timing of this blog is interesting. My ministry history includes two civilian pastorates, ten years on active duty as an Army chaplain (after 19 years in the field artillery), and now, I too am in the IT industry. My ministry has been with military academy cadets and high school age homeschoolers. I am conducting apologetics workshops (somewhat in the mold of CSI), and am currently in a teaching/preaching/marrying mode. I too have been wrestling with the increasing tug of the Holy Spirit to move back to full time ministry.

My seminary days were spent in John MacArthur's church...and very much find myself in a similar mode.

I will be praying with you as I continue to pray along the same lines.

matt said...

Selfishly... I'm with Turk!

Nicky Bacala said...

He said, "If you can do something else other than pastoral ministry, do it."

I think this flows from Spurgeon's, Lectures to my students...

"If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way ; he is not the man in whom dwells the Spirit of God in its fulness, for a man so filled with God would utterly weary of any pursuit but that for which his inmost soul pants. If on the other hand, you can say- that for all the wealth of both the Indies you could not and dare not espouse any other calling so as to be put aside from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, then, depend upon it, if other things be equally satisfactory, you have the signs of this apostleship. We must feel that woe is unto us if we preach not the gospel ; the word of God must be unto us as fire in our bones, otherwise, if we undertake the ministry, we shall be unhappy in it, shall be unable to bear the self-denials incident to it, and shall be of little service to those among whom we minister. I speak of self-denials, and well I may ; for the true pastor s work is full of them, and without a love to his calling he will soon succumb, and either leave the drudgery, or move on in discontent, burdened with a monotony as tiresome as that of a blind horse in a mill."


But as for you, brother, do not grow weary of doing good.
2Thess 3:13

Ricky Rickard said...

Dan,

All the best as you pursue this calling. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. God Bless!

Ricky Rickard, Jr.

St. Brianstine said...

OOOOOOOOOhhhhhh I know of two openings at churches my friends attend, both in So-Cal:

1. Sr. Pastor
http://www.smccnet.org/templates/template1.shtml

2. Sr. Pastor
http://www.tccf.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=40&Itemid=75

philness said...

Dan,

That is awesome. I knew you have always wanted to do that. I sent my pastor an email with your info.

Our church participates in church plants and Ron, my pastor, just mentioned California in this weeks sermon. www.rockpointechurch.org is the website. And my pastors name is Ron Holton.

God Bless you and your family. I will continue to keep the DJP family in my prayers.

ReformedMommy said...

After your posts over at Pyro I was wondering whether there might be something like this going on. And so may I just add my hearty "well, duh!" to the others. :) Will add praying to cogitating and scheming on your behalf....

candyinsierras said...

My husband and I lean towards dispensationalism as well, and as you know we drive an hour to go to a Reformed Baptist church, which of course does not teach a dispensational view. Reno does not have much in the way of reformed churches. Too bad you can't start a church here.

You should check into Erin's idea. Portland Maine is really pretty, just no big mountains.

John said...

May the Lord open doors and guide you through them.

SamKnisely said...

Exciting news! I greatly enjoy and am helped by your writing/teaching. May the Lord give you grace, patience, wisdom, and a new place to serve Him.

JOYce@pfg said...

hmmmm, well DUH ~ what an amazing God; it's nothing less than awesome what He does with His workmanship for His pleasure and glory. Trust Him to have it(those steps ordered) all worked out as you continue to follow Him where He leads. Great! :-)

Mrs. G. said...

Are you open to youth ministry and/or Oklahoma (metro, not rural)?

Our church type fits the requirement. If interested, I'd be THRILLED to pass on your information to our elders.

DJP said...

Thanks so much, Mrs. G. If by "youth" you meant College - Singles, while it isn't what I'm primarily looking for, it is a ministry I've done and enjoyed. If you mean cradle to high school, I'm very grateful for your interest, but it isn't where my training nor experience nor gifts are.

Mrs. G. said...

It's middle and high school... Our loss - but the gain of the place God has prepared for you. Can't wait to see how He brings the two of you together.

Laurie M. said...

Blessings to you as you seek to follow the Lord's leading. I wish I could suggest something, but we can't even pay our own pastor yet. He works a day job and pastors our little reformed baptist church up here in Chico.

Gilbert said...

Wow. I'm probably 4 days late with this (was out storm chasing when DJP set off a firestorm here), but it's obvious where God wants you...not where you are now. :-) I pray that you see God's leadings well to follow His "voice" and go where he tells you. You know, when I first read your blogs, without looking at your background, I thought you were a great pastor!
Whoever gets you will have their socks blessed off.

Anyway, keep us posted!

Gary Olson said...

Hello Dan,

Just wanted you to know that I am a close friend of Tom Lusby. He mentioned your name and blog and I wanted you to know that I really appreciate your thoughts and writings. It truly is "Biblical," especially your most recent blog about the "pregnant man" musings of the media.

I mentioned to Tom that the church I attend, Christ Community Church (ccc-online.org) in West Covina, is in need of a youth pastor (High School through College) and we are also searching for a Music minister. Tom seemed a little skeptical that these positions would interest you as they are probably well below your ability. I thought it might be interesting for you to check them out if you're in any way inclined.

Based on your writing, it appears you are well beyond that and are truly deserving of a Senior Pastorate somewhere. I hope you find it.

Perhaps we will meet someday. I will pray for you and wish the best to you in your search.
In Christ,
Gary Olson

DJP said...

Thanks very much, Gary. I really appreciate it, and will look at the site.

I wouldn't at all think of it in terms of being below, beyond, or deserving, though. That's an important ministry; HS and college are important, pivotal stages of life. I ministered in a college/careers group for some time, and enjoyed it.

God bless you and your fellowship.

robsteele said...

I just saw your post and want to say I think you'll be a fabulous pastor. I actually approached you about maybe coming to our "sweet little PCA congregation" a couple of years ago. Remember?

God bless!!

DJP said...

Thanks, Rob. I wish I could've. I like that PCA. If it weren't for, you know, those little things.

Thomas Louw said...

Dan.
I was reading through some of the stuff on your site (not the blog) and came to this post.

It has been three years now, you must be taking strain at some level, or maybe on many levels.
I pray for your faith and steadfastness.

I totally understand where you coming from. Full time ministry or anything that allows me to spend more time in the word and on my knees has been my dream but, it has been 11 years now.


These years have not been for nothing I have seen God’s providence in all of them I have seen my knowledge increase and my tendency to sin decrease. I have seen God’s grace, His love and providence.
Still my bones burns inside me ever hotter but, some days are better than others.

Look at the opportunity you have with your blogs, they really are a blessing to me. Look at the books you have written a blessing to many.

(D.V my wife will buy me WTG for Christmas, Your Proverbs book cannot be found, the publisher is does not have a distributor here, well any that I can find )

I listened to most of your sermons I could find, still got 5 on proverbs to go. It is very insightful and teaches me a lot.
Your gifts are been used brother maybe in a bigger and better way than you think.

God in His wisdom, providence grounded in His sovereign rule and unending love has never left you on the sidelines on the bench, you are in the playing His plays and giving him the glory even if you doubt it sometimes.

I always think of Moses waiting the 40 years before his ministry started.


I know it is hard sometimes, I have suffered what I perceive as major setbacks lately but, I bet you they not.
Keep the faith brother.

DJP said...

Thomas, thanks. For the Proverbs book, write and ask Tonya here: tonya.waycaster, then an @, then stl-distribution.com. She should be able to get you set up.