I first heard a call to ministry way back in 1994. I couldn’t miss it. See, I was part of a service organization called Arnold Air Society. For those who don’t know about AAS, it’s the service organization for Air Force ROTC. My crew at The Citadel wanted to do something at a larger level than just at the school, so we volunteered for Area HQ. Our area covered Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The fact that we were running unopposed should have been a clue to how much work was involved, but I digress. There was a new position to be filled in the coming year called Director of Support. No one really knew what it was about. I was the jack-of-all-trades so they looked at me and said, “You’re it.” At that point, I was not a Christian.
Fast forward to the spring of 1994. I had accepted Jesus Christ in January. A new chaplain had established residence at The Citadel, a Chaplain Clanton, formerly of the US Army. And as I was to learn, formerly head of the US Army Chaplaincy School. We headed off to the national meeting and I was all set to learn what it was that a Director of Support did. In a meeting with the other area Directors of Support and with the national Director of Support, the national DoS started off by saying the many different hats we would wear. And then she said something that floored me, “And you’re also the chaplain for your area. The chaplain position has been folded in.” She went on to say something about how important that part of our job was because part of a chaplain’s job is health and morale of his or her charges. I didn’t hear much else because I was thinking, “Lord, what exactly did you get me into?”
So I went back to The Citadel and talked to Chaplain Clanton. That’s when he told me what he had just got done doing in the US Army, trying to suppress the chuckles the whole time. My question to God was, “How could you use me, a new Christian, in this role?” And I believe Chaplain Clanton made a comment about how interesting the timing was for me to find out (when I couldn’t back out) and for him to show up at the Citadel when he did. That’s what started me really asking the question about whether or not He was calling me. As I graduated and went off to my Air Force assignment, certain things confirmed that was His direction. And I’ve been serving in ministry every since.
One area that has been at a standstill was seminary. It seemed like every time a door was there, He closed it. It took a long time for me to realize that I hadn’t been ready for seminary. I was more focused on me than Him, and likely I would have gone and done fine academically. But seminary is about more than grades. It’s about spiritual growth. It’s about better understanding one’s calling. And I wasn’t thinking about those things so much. I was thinking about seminary as a checklist item. Well, when my attitude and heart changed, a door came open at Reformed Theological Seminary. I’m enrolled there in my first on-line class (History of Christianity I) and admittedly, I am behind. Way behind. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but it will get done. I know because I know this is what I’m supposed to do.
And that’s the reason I’m adding seminary to my goal blog. I need to stay focused on getting the classes done and doing the soul searching and heart cleaning that should be a part of seminary. It’s hard, balancing a family, a ministry, and my professional job and community involvement. But I’ve asked at each step, “Lord, would you have me involved in this?” and gotten some sort of confirmation before signing on. There’s plenty I’ve said no to, for the first time in my life (I have had a real problem saying no to people). So while I’m busy, I am where I need to be.