In some recent blogs the question has been raised, "Has God rung your phone!" "Has God given you a Call to Preach?"
Let me go back to 1962 while living in Roanoke, Virginia. I was fourteen years old and in middle school eighth grade. We were asked that school year to think about our life’s work. What would we like to become when we finished school. We were to write a paper concerning a career. Of course at fourteen you don’t really know. I had this thought about becoming a sport’s announcer. I also thought about going into drafting, maybe going to Virginia Tech.
I don’t remember when the thought came over me, but I had this intrinsic thought about ministry.
It seemed to me, that I might like to preach. Where did that came from? I at the time had no clue, except it was really strong on my mind.
I had been going to church since birth. Mom played the piano, and dad preached. At fourteen, I had not missed a single Sunday in my entire life. Church and Sunday School were our life. Dad and mom were totally involved in ministry and it was their life 24/7. Everything I knew to this point about ministry was good.
When the time came for me to give my report in school. I decided that the report would be on a career in Sportscasting. Just before I gave my report, the boy that sat in front of me got up and said, "I want to be a preacher." For some reason, I was really embarrassed. In my mind I felt that I wanted a career in ministry, but was embarrassed to mention it. That boy was not afraid to say what he wanted to be.
So my ninth grade school year classes were geared toward the career in sportscasting, or possibly in drafting. I did like the classes. The ministry was still on my mind, but I had no intention of acting upon those thoughts.
Then in 1963 I entered Jefferson High School. I tried out and made the football team and basketball team. I enjoyed sports in the summer, playing softball and trying boxing.
That year at church, Fred Henson was my new Sunday School Teacher. I remember in his classes he was teaching First Corinthians 3:10-16. I still remember the text in 12: "Now if any man build upon this foundation , gold, silver, and precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is." Fred expounded upon these verses for several weeks. And during that time, my heart and mind was set on preaching and learning God’s Word and building a foundation upon gold, silver, and precious stones.
I remember shortly after this that I talked to dad about preaching. In December 1963, dad asked me to teach the teenagers. Ron Taylor, who was teaching the class, enlisted in the Army and went to Viet Nam. I was glad that dad asked me. Dad said that he had seen my desire to learn God’s Word, and said that I was always studying, and that I was reading a lot of books in his library.
Here is what I know. I enjoyed teaching. Then I remember reading "IN HIS STEPS" and was so convicted that I said, "Dad, I would like to preach Sunday night." And dad said OK. In shock I said OK. So I began to preach in dad’s church for the next several years. I then began to be asked to preach in youth rallies in other churches. This was the greatest joy in my soul. For the next twenty-seven months I was preaching and teaching every week.
I knew this was going to be my life’s work. There was no question of that desire for sure. I was so into this ministry that it took precedent over anything else I was doing. They told me I was good playing football, and softball, and basketball. I was even in the school band, but my thoughts were on learning the Bible. And I couldn’t concentrate on playing sports and playing in the band.
Dad was always careful about pushing me into ministry. As a matter of fact, he was very quiet about this. He let me preach and teach to see if that is what I desired to do. I decided I would go to Seminary at Arlington, Texas.
I told my girlfriend since the 10th grade that I would go to Seminary and then we would get married when I finished school. But first I wanted to get my training to preach and learn the Bible.
My dad had a heart attack in 1964 and for a time was unable to preach, so I often preached for him. He finally got better and preached, but in February 1966 he had another heart attack and died in two weeks. The members asked me to become the Pastor of the church. I was no Spurgeon who pastored at 18. I said I needed to go to college for more training.
After my father died, I was asked by Rev Gene Arnold of the Fellowship Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia to come and work in the Youth Department. He asked me to preach on the church’s radio program, and then some at the church.
So did God call me to into His service? Here is what I can say. I was doing what my heart and mind, and soul and desire were telling me to do.
I desired to build upon a foundation that was going to be gold, silver and precious stones. And I fully believed that this foundation was the Lord’s Work.
There was this mental and spiritual tug on me then, and in these forty plus years, the tug has never left. There is no greater joy than following and knowing the Lord.