Moments shape our lives. Stephen Sondheim wrote in his show, Into the Woods:
Oh, if life were made of moments
Even now and then a bad one!
But if life were only moments
Then you’d never know you had one.
My life has had some incredible moments. The moment I met my wife. The moment my daughter was born. And the moment God called me into ministry.
I’ve also faced many tough moments. Moments of suicide attempts. Moments of despair when codependency ruined yet another friendship. The moment I lost my virginity to a man I didn’t know.
On a recent Thursday morning, another moment shaped my life.
Like any other Thursday morning, I had meetings at work. Unlike other Thursday mornings, though, my first meeting was with the senior pastor, the associate pastor, and the family pastor. Nervous wouldn’t begin to cover how I felt.
I sat down in the office, still running through every possible scenario in my head. They’d told me I wasn’t in trouble, but who really believes a group of pastors?
The senior pastor prayed to start the meeting. I don’t know what he prayed: one, because of nerves; two, because of what he said next.
“Dean, we’re moving you out of children’s ministry. We want you to try something new.”
My heart shattered — I love children’s ministry. I love my children’s ministry. I’d been serving in children’s ministry for years. Now they wanted to move me out of it?
But before I could even process this much, my pastor continued. “We want you to focus on school. You have a passion for counseling, and we want you to use that along with your story. We believe God has something else in store for you. A ministry not yet begun.
“We want you to help us reach LGBT people — inside this church, inside this city, and perhaps across the nation. It’s our belief that this is your true calling. And we want to help you.”
My metaphorical jaw hit the floor. Was this right? Did my pastor just say he wants to help me start a ministry to reach LGBT people? Does he even know what that means?
My pastor went on to tell me that the church elders were in full support. He had taken a risk and told them this idea, sharing my story with them — something I had given him permission to do over a year ago. And the elders were unanimous in supporting me. Another jaw-dropping revelation.
The meeting continued for another half-hour as we discussed some of the logistics. I asked a few questions and asked for time to pray about this and share with my wife. I already knew my answer, though.
My call to ministry that came years ago — it was about this very notion. I remember praying that night as a young student. I remember God’s placing in my mind a vision of sharing the freedom Christ offers.
The clear call that Christ placed on my heart has still rung true every day of my life since. And now — now, I have a church to support me in this vision?
I left that meeting with the pastors in a daze. I ran to the nearest bathroom and bawled for three minutes straight. So many emotions flooded my spirit. After I collected myself, I called my friend, John, to share it all with him.
His basic response? “It makes sense!”
Something inside me still aches, thinking back on this moment. It’s still so fresh. I know this moment will have incredible ramifications. But right now, I am simply thankful for a church that supports me so much as to share this vision and call with me.
I will definitely remember this moment.
Has God spoken any sort of “calling” into your life? Does your church support you or do you feel unsupported by the church?