Knowing God's Will ~ Three Questions

I’ve been asked a thousand times how I came to know that I was supposed to be in ministry.

My answer is quite simple… I didn’t.


You may wonder about that answer, so let me walk you quickly through some steps in my journey to where I am today.


First, I had a dream I was preaching, and I wondered, “should I be a preacher?”


So, I did what any 14-year-old boy would do…I went to my pastor. He said, “Bill, I think you’re just following the lead of the others in our congregation who have recently decided to become preachers.”


I believed him. He was my pastor. I had given my life to Christ and he had been a part of my spiritual journey.


Question settled.


So I went on with life. I finished school and begin to do the next phase of my life, go find a job and become an adult. So I did.




I got married and shortly after was asked to teach one week in my Sunday School class. That went fair, and I was not so pleased with my ability to “wow the crowd.”


A little time when by and I was asked to fill in for another Sunday School teacher. This time it wasn’t my age group, it was an older adult class. They loved me. Well, that felt good.


Not sure I did such a bang-up job, but I had managed to study, make notes, get a few things outside the lesson plan to help explain the passage and went at it. It felt good to succeed.


I’m sure it would for anyone who wants to do a good job. Especially if you’re an approval-seeking person. Which I was.


Over time, the teacher for that older adult class took on some new responsibilities. I was asked to become the teacher of that class. I accepted.


Then the problems began…


A friend who was in the class kept saying silly, stupid things like “you just don’t know it yet, but you’re gonna be a preacher.” Gary, the pestering friend, kept this little charade up. Things began to bother me. Things like, should I listen to him, after all, he WAS a preacher. He should know, right?


After a while, I just dismissed his assertions and went on with my teaching. Then the previous thoughts I had at 14 began to nag at me. I began wondering what I should do. I was already a deacon with the church, so I had been ordained to do “some” ministry. I helped with the visitation of members already. There were already a number of young men who were already preaching. Filling in for the pastor when he was gone. What would I add to the mix?


During this time of contemplation, the senior pastor, the one I had spoken to when I was 14, resigned and left the area. One of the men who had already been ordained as a preacher took over the church as the interim. He was a family friend and I really enjoyed his ministry.


So, I set aside my thoughts, yet again. They came nagging again. Thoughts of whether I would be a “preacher” came and went for months. So I decided to catch Lindsey, the interim pastor, and family friend, after our weekly visitation, to ask him for input about what I was wrestling with.


“Lindsey”, I said, “I am wondering, how did you know you were supposed to be a preacher?” He looked at me, didn’t answer my question, and said, “I’ve been waiting for you to come to me.”




What would be next?


“I’ve known for a while that God was dealing with your heart about being a preacher and was waiting for you to come to me. I believe God is calling you into the ministry.”


You could have knocked me over with a feather. Nine years since my last wrestling match, which ended at the advice of my pastor. No hard feelings, no “I think he’s wrong” or any other types of doubts. He said he thought I was just copying others and I thought, “it makes sense.”




This man whom I admired and thought so much of was clearly staring me down with an affirmative answer, one that I didn’t even ask for, nor expected. I was just trying to figure things out and wanted some sage wisdom.


The rest is history. I became a youth pastor, an associate pastor, a senior pastor (only one pastor, not sure why it was called senior), a hospital chaplain volunteer, a contract hospital chaplain, a sheriff’s department chaplain and now, for the past 21 years, a chaplain reaching out to cancer and long term illness patients.

I get in a pulpit from 6-20 times a year, preaching at different churches for pastors on vacation. I fill my church pulpit while our pastor takes time off. I still teach a Sunday School class after all these years.


But that still begs the question I’ve been asked multiple times, “how did you know you were supposed to be in ministry.” For years I’ve told others, “I believe I was called to ministry.” Please don’t misunderstand this next statement, I’ve been blessed to have others agree with me, they believe I’m called to ministry.

So… I am in ministry.


Over time I’ve come to see that my “call” was not something I could ever really explain, apart from these few truths….


Truth #1 – For reasons unknown to me, God has allowed me to be in leadership positions where I’ve gotten to direct other people’s lives. Along that path, it has included many different forms of leadership. Each position has allowed me to grow. I can see clearly, as they say, “hind sight is 20/20”, that God was preparing me for this time in my life. I’ve also came to believe that each and everything I experience in my current leadership role is for me to move to where he will eventually lead me. Where that leads, I am not sure, but for now, it’s as plain as the nose on my face, I’m where I am supposed to be.


Truth #2 – God has placed men in my life, men who have invested in me. Each of them has grown a particular part of my life. Each of them has made an impact and opened my heart for the next season of my life.


Now that I’m “official”, whatever that means, I just take it for granted, God has went before me and made a way where I needed to go…


From Lindsey Duncan, the interim pastor I began ministry under, to Dutch Darnell, who hounded me to stay faithful in order to complete my ordination process.


From Doug Holdren, who was more than a pastor to me, he was a best friend and an inspiration, to Alex “Chip” Sekulich, a friend unlike any other I had ever had in my life before then. There was a love that I still feel for him this day. He was the man who was my bridge to my role as a pastor of a group of people needing compassion and inspiration after a difficult season.


Then there is Jack Brady and Phil Leslie. They were definitely two men who were “born for this time” of my life. Phil would depart my life shortly after my volunteering at the jail. But what Phil taught me about jail ministry in the time we spent together. He gave me the skills to impacted others because of his investment.


Jack, on the other hand, has been like a brother to me in so many ways. His friendship, support and ongoing mentoring is indescribable and has changed me in ways I will never know this side of heaven. I still can’t believe God has brought us together. We’re as much different as we alike. So many times we think differently about topics and approaches, yet it’s as if our love for each other is cemented by our love for others.


We have a shared passion to see growth and healing in others that is often off the scale. I learned compassion and grace at Jack’s side. I’ve watched him confront and reconcile in one breath. He is a friend to many, but I am thankful, he is a brother to me.


As I think about each of these men I’m reminded of one of my favorite old proverbs, “As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.” It’s taken from the Old Testament, in the twenty-seventh chapter of the book known as “Proverbs.”


These men, along with those who often supported them, from family to staff, are the people who molded me and are responsible for my current faith and ministry. The good, the bad and the ugly, are all part of how closely I’ve listened or ignored their counsel.


Lastly, I would be remiss to leave out one of God’s most obvious partnerships, one that has catapulted me into success in my current season of life. Teresa Brown has been with me since the beginning of Gilead’s outreach. If it was not for Teresa, NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING detail-oriented would be completed. I have often said she takes my ideas and makes them happen. I trust her with my life. She is like a sister to me.


I trust her, and her counterpart, Ginny, so often they’ve made me mad, sad, happy and for goodness sake, have given me laughter that only the three of us can really appreciate. The ongoing relationship is one of mutual growth, interaction, confrontation and maturing. I believe I am a better person, a better chaplain, because of these two ladies.


There are many others who have played a critical role in my journey, Nanci, Candy, Beth, Madge, Tina, Tina, Betty, Laurie, Danny, Dick, Fred, Joe, Melissa, Bob, Pat, Bill, Roy, David, Lowell, Darl… I’m sure I’m gonna mess up and forget one. If I have, please message me and I’ll add you, and please forgive me for my “old” brain.

Each of these knows me for who I am and they accept me anyway. That’s grace. That’s why I am a blessed man.


What does that have to do with knowing that I was supposed to be in ministry? Well… First and foremost, “I” didn’t know.


Each of these people revealed a portion of me that God would use to transform and transport me to the next place in my journey.


I have discovered God’s will, which was a path in ministry, through my ongoing relationships with each of these amazing, and wonderful humans.


Each is flawed, each is not even close to being perfect, and each is an influence God used to direct my coming and going. I am today what my interaction with them, through God’s grace, has made me.


Want to know what God has for your life? Find other believers to do life with. Don’t take a shortcut. Not every name on this list was a close friend. Others were.


Yet, each of them is wonderfully responsible for who I am today.


The good, the bad and the ugly. All are part of the big picture. All are a part of my journey to an ongoing discovery of who I am in Christ, where he will lead me, and ultimately make me the man I will be the moment I take my last breath.


While being shaped by the people in my life, I came to the reality that there are three questions I can ask in any situation that will guide me to God’s will for the moment, which gives you God’s will for the larger plan.


Just rambling…


Just one of many…


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