As a small church pastor, and a bi-vocational one at that, I never know when opportunities to minister will present themselves.
First off, I may have to define bi-vocational, because sometimes when I say that, some people don’t hear (or read) the vocational part.
I shepherd a small, independent, non-denominational church in a rural area. I only receive a small stipend from the church. My main income comes from the coffee house/cafe’ my wife and I own and operate. Yes, a true Mom-n-Pop establishment; the Christian version of “Cheers”. And in all actuality, I am more a tri or quad vocationalist. We are suicide intervention trainers, and I also serve on a local school board. Some of you may be tired just reading that, but it works for us, I live tired and get my refreshment from serving my community and the Lord.
Back to today’s point of ministry moments showing up, not always at the best time.
Yesterday right at the height of our lunch hour rush, my phone rang. It was an out of the area number and when I answered it the gentleman on the other end introduced himself as a county sheriff chaplain. It’s one of those introductions that kinda makes your heart jump between your throat and stomach at the same time.
He tells me he is in need of a big favor. He had gotten my number from another local pastor and was really hoping I could help.
We live in a recreational area with a lake and river as the big draw. It is also a big risk, drownings are unfortunately a common occurrence here. We had a man in a kayak go under on Sunday. Yesterday they found his body and the family was in need of a chaplain. No one from the sheriff’s office could get up here for close to an hour.
I could not break away from the shop right then, so I started making phone calls between customers. Each call ended the same…couldn’t get away, or was out of town, two had car issues. Finally I got ahold of one pastor who could be there. I also was able to get away from the shop by that point and be there too.
I showed up and checked in with the Sargent who then introduced me to the family. I spent my time talking with the young wife of the victim. She is only 24 with two very young boys. I had no idea what I was going to say to this family on my way to them. I just prayed that God would direct the time, and He did.
I was blessed with just being there. Which is really the biggest part to any ministry moment.
It turns out that the county does not have a chaplain for our area. Most of the time one has to travel an hour or so to get here. I called the chaplain who called me later and filled him in on how it went. In the process we talked about the duties of a sheriff’s chaplain.
One of the things he said really rang in my heart…”Most of the time our ministry is that of just being there.”
Exactly what I had just done. Exactly what I do at any ministry moment. Because it’s not really me doing the ministry, it is God working through me.
So sitting off to the side of me right now is an application for the county sheriff’s chaplain corps. Another hat to wear? Just making the one I wear now a little bit bigger. Just reaching out to serve my community from a different perspective. To minister in a way of being there better.
All for the glory of God!
That’s this shepherd’s stance for today.