In 1978, when I first became a Christian, I don’t think it occurred to anyone that I would someday become a pastor. At the time, I didn’t even have a Bible. But it wasn’t long before I bought one and began reading and studying it seriously.
One thing led to another, and soon I was teaching Sunday School, and getting involved in church leadership. A dramatic change in my life occurred in 1990 when I attended a volunteer training course for an organization in Richmond called the CrisisPregnancyCenter. The CPC (now renamed the Pregnancy Resource Center) is an inter-denominational ministry dedicated to caring for women who are experiencing unplanned pregnancy, and the training I received there first led to my joining the Board of Directors, and then, in 1992, being asked to serve as the Executive Director. For nine years I served in this capacity, and looking back, I realize this entry into “full time ministry” was terrific preparation for what I do now—serving as pastor for a local church.
This is how it happened: in 1999, the church’s pastor of 15 years sensed it was time for him to move on. At that time, a number of friends asked if I considered seeking the position, and my answer was always the same: “no, it hadn’t entered my mind.” This all changed for me, though, after a sleepless night during which I was strongly impressed with the sense that I was supposed to be the next pastor. Because this was just an impression, I didn’t plan acting on it. Just two days later, however, I received an e-mail from the front-running candidate for the position. “Michael,” he wrote, “I believe you are supposed to be the pastor of FreedomFellowshipChurch.”
In spite of this, I didn’t tell anyone in the congregation (other than my wife, Carol.) That way, if the congregation were to call me, I could be assured it was not due to any manipulation on my part. Well, as they say, the rest is history. Almost a year after that sleepless night, the church unanimously voted to call me as their pastor beginning in September of 2000.
Today, I can’t imagine not being a pastor. I absolutely love what I do. To think that I have a full-time job helping others get to know the God I love, caring for God’s people and studying the Bible in order to proclaim its truth—it’s almost too good to be true.