“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task” (1 Timothy 3:1 NIV).
When I think back to my first sense of God calling me to vocational ministry, I am continually amazed at how awesome it was. I had first chosen to follow Christ while in middle school, but it wasn’t until I was finishing up my junior year of high school that I truly felt I was being called to ministry. I was set on majoring in graphic design when I got to college, but as I was talking with a friend who was about to graduate, he told me about his own call from God to be a pastor. Suddenly, I felt the Holy Spirit burst onto the scene, pulling me in that same direction. I literally could not get that conversation out of my head for the next several days! Over and over, I kept imagining myself as a pastor and prayed constantly about it.
At church the following Sunday, I was assisting up front with the service, which was something I had done many times throughout high school. Something very unusual happened afterwards. Five different people came up to me and said “Dwight, you’d make a great pastor!” I was simply floored. At that moment, I realized that this call from God was very real. Later on, I told my parents about my plans. They were very supportive, but also shocked because they had no idea where this change had come from. Since then, I’ve gotten a Bible degree from a Christian college, served on staff at a church as a youth minister, and now currently serve at CBE while I work on a graduate degree.
I personally have experienced so much support for my call to ministry from friends, family, and the pastors at my church. I am deeply saddened by how many excellent women, who have felt the same sure call from God, are told that they cannot serve in this capacity simply because of their gender. When I first learned about CBE, I was unsure how to grapple with these Bible passages related to men, women, and the church. However, after hearing a lecture by Mimi Haddad and examining the Greek text for myself, I became fully convinced of the biblical truth of equality for all men and women. Now I long for the day when the church can truly be one united body, undivided by gender, ethnicity, class, or anything else.
One woman, in particular, continues to inspire me to this day. During college, I served in an internship at a small Wesleyan church as part of the program I was in. The associate pastor at the church, now the senior pastor, was an excellent preacher. I remember witnessing first-hand how powerfully the Holy Spirit spoke through her. She was a strong example of Jesus’ love to me and many others and continues to live that out at that church. Along with others there, she mentored me and helped affirm my call even more. The thought of her possibly being told that she was not allowed to serve as a minister just because she’s a woman truly brings me to tears!
So here’s my word to all men and women called to minister: Trust in God, our rock and redeemer, and forge ahead filled with the Spirit’s power! Our Lord will not fail to bring you right where you need to be.