August 12, 2007. Nine and a half years ago to the day. A day that I will never ever forget. Sure, there are details that get a little blurred with the more time that passes, but I would be hard pressed to find a more important day in my life, at least in regards to my calling in life. My wedding day would probably be the only other day that I would consider as more important overall, as I got to marry my best friend and the person that has agreed to walk beside me through my calling in life.
What was August 12, 2007? It was the day that Crossroads Christian Church in Gray, TN ordained me for full-time ministry. In other words, the leadership of my home church “set me apart” for my calling of ministry. They had watched me grow up, and even with the mistakes of my youth that they knew about (I had some wild years, even while going to bible college), they saw the calling that God had put on my life. On top of that, they also saw my commitment to follow God’s calling on my life to go into vocational ministry.
The summer of 2007, leading to this memorable day in August, was a very impactful time in my life as well. I had just finished a 3-month internship at Georgetown Church of Christ, and had been able to start correcting some of the mistakes of my youth. It was also the summer that I met my wife. In fact, August 11, sometime in the early morning hours was when Kelley and I finally made our feelings known to each other and agreed to start dating. She was still in Ohio, and I was back home in Tennessee for a week before going back to school in Ohio.
So leading into my Ordination service, I had also just started a relationship that would prove to be something very important as well. To say that I was on a “high” would be an understatement. Crossroads is the church I consider my home, and a place that has helped prepare me for ministry over the years. For the leadership from Crossroads to see something in me enough to “set me apart” for ministry means more to me than I think I could ever really express through words.
Let me set the scene a little for you. Most ordination services that I have heard of over the years usually take place on a Sunday evening. But for some reason, Clint (the Sr. Minister) and everyone else from Crossroads decided that they would hold my ordination during both Sunday morning services that day.
My best friend (and eventually best man in our wedding) was able to be there that day to lead the worship service. Nick Tomeo, the professor of youth ministry at Cincinnati Christian University, where I was studying youth ministry, made the five hour drive from Cincinnati to Gray to be a part of the service. One of my best friends from college drove in from Louisville, KY to be there as a support to me. My extended family that all go to different churches around East Tennessee showed up at Crossroads to be a part of the service as well. Ryan Bader, the last ordained person from that church before me came and spoke as part of the service.
Clint Andrews and Curtis Booher, mentors and men that I respect highly preached and challenged not only me, but the congregation to run the race of this life with our eyes fixed on Jesus. And then maybe the most special part of the whole service happened. The elders of Crossroads surrounded me, and with me on my knees in an act of surrender to God’s call in my life, laid hands on me, confirming my calling, and promising to support me in my efforts to be a servant leader in the Kingdom of God.
After the service was over, my mom, along with the rest of my family, hosted a luncheon in celebration of the day. To say that I was blown away with all that took place is definitely an understatement. It was a humbling moment, one that I never want to take for granted. There is nothing special about me. That is not why I am writing this. In fact, I will be the first one to admit that I am a very flawed person, and I do not always feel worthy of the calling that God placed on my life. But I also absolutely love getting to preach full-time. There is nothing else I would want to do with my life. And honestly, I don’t really think that I am qualified to do anything else.
I am humbled by the fact that men that watched me grow up saw enough in me to set me apart for a life of ministry. But it is also sobering. Not only do I have a calling from God, I have the support and recognition from other servant leaders that I am set apart for vocational ministry. What if I fail? Do I have what it takes? Am I going to make them look bad? If I try to do this all on my own power, then the answer to those questions is an emphatic YES! But that is one of the reasons for an ordination service like this. It shows that we cannot do ministry on our own. We have to support each other, but more importantly, we have to rely on God’s power to do what we are called to do.
That is why this day, nine and a half years ago is so important to me. It reminds me that I have a support system, even 1,400 miles away from where I am living now. But it also reminds me that God has called me to this life, and it is through His power that I am able to do what I love.
A friend of mine in ministry posted a picture of his ordination program the other day on social media, and that is what got me thinking about all of this today. It is a great reminder of those that have gone before us, but also surround us and support us in our calling. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life, even when ministry is tough and beats me up a little. But more than that, I can’t imagine walking through this calling without the support system that have surrounded me through the years, even when I wasn’t really living the way I should have been.
What about you? I would love to hear about a day that you will never forget or about the support system you have in your life. Don’t think you have a support system or feel like you need more? Let me know how I can try to support you!