Yesterday at our monthly Bulkley Valley Ministerial Association meeting, Pastor Dwayne Goertzen from Smithers Evangelical Free Church spoke about a pastor’s calling. Drawing from Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Dwayne commented on how Moses’ calling comes from the heart of God: God saw His people suffering and desired to deliver them (as the opening chapters of Exodus reveal).
We considered how Moses’ background prepared him for his ministry: Moses was an Israelite but grew up in Pharaoh’s court. He knew both his people and their oppressors. Even the events surrounding his birth connected with his calling: Just as he was saved out of the water, so God would use Moses to save Israel out of the depths of Egypt. Similar with God’s people today: The things we go through – even the difficult things – in some way, shape, or form, prepare us for the ministry God has planned for us.
Moses, however, was not so keen about following where God was preparing and leading him. Moses had many excuses as to why he was the wrong man for the job: his obscurity, doubt that the Israelites would listen to him, lack of eloquence… about the only thing he doesn’t complain about is his age (approximately 80 at the time!). Nevertheless, God is bigger than all of Moses’ objections.
Anyone who is inclined to snicker at Moses’ excuses stops short when we acknowledge that we have our own list of excuses that we think justify not following God’s calling in our lives – too busy, not smart enough, too shy, not popular. God is bigger than those excuses, too. In fact, as someone at our meeting yesterday pointed out, God can actually use our excuses to help us work through what we need to in order to get us to where He is leading us. In Moses’ case, each excuse was met with God describing how He would help Moses in that particular area. If our excuses drive us more and more to rely on God’s strength, then they have actually served a purpose!
With all his weaknesses as well as his strengths, Moses serves as a model for Christians today, particularly pastors, as we considered at our meeting yesterday. God has prepared you and me for the ways we’re currently serving him, even if it takes a while for us to work through all our objections! Just as Moses was called to shepherd a group of people out slavery and lead them to the Promised Land, the pastor’s calling is to continually reorient a person’s perspective from being enslaved to the idols of our culture to being free in Christ. This applies to one-to-one counselling, preaching to the entire congregation… and to the pastor him- or herself. I, too, need to hear the daily call to die to sin and live for Christ.
Painting by Arnold Friberg (1913-2010) from the Friberg Fine Art website. A cool, more contemporary depiction of the burning bush is here.
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