I became a follower of Jesus in a small Assembly of God church when I was 14 years old. My pastor was a man named Phil Hollis. His passionate faith was infectious. But it was the personal interest he took in me that had an impact on my life. He took the time to remember my name. He joined the youth group on trips to the lake or to the Rockies in Colorado. On these trips we’d stay up late at night and talk about the Bible and faith.
My pastor started a Bible quiz team at the church, which got me interested in memorizing scripture. He would drive the three of us teens on the team to competitions across the Midwest.
When I was 16, Phil said that he thought God might be calling me to be a pastor. I was not interested in pastoring, but in law, or engineering or perhaps psychology. He was insistent, inviting me to preach for him one Sunday night. It was that night that I sensed God’s call to be a pastor.
When it was time to look at colleges, it was my pastor who took me to visit several schools and helped me to evaluate them. In a very real way he was my father in the faith; he was my Paul, and I his Timothy.
After I was off to college Phil moved to pastor the church his father had started in Topeka. I moved to Tulsa to attend college, joined The United Methodist Church, and eventually started the church I now serve.
The impact of his life upon mine was enormous. In a very real way he has touched every member of the church I serve, and every person who has read any book I’ve ever written.
A key attribute of leaders is that they replicate themselves. They encourage others to listen for God’s call and to respond. Phil Hollis did this for me. At the church I serve this is one of my priorities, helping young adults to hear God’s call. We invite children, starting in third grade, to consider God’s call. In confirmation we invite youth to identify other youth in youth group that they believe may have a call. We have one Sunday a year focused on answering God’s call. We’ve even set aside funds in our budget to help pay for seminary for those responding to the call to the pastorate.
Pastors come from local churches and often hear their call as a result of an interested pastor or lay person who encourages them to listen for God’s voice and urges them to respond.
What is your church doing to help young people hear and answer the call?
Join the MinistryMatters.com “Why Ministers Matter” blog tour to read today’s leading pastors and authors share their stories of ministers who made a difference in their lives. Visit MinistryMatters.com/blogtour for a complete list of virtual tour stops and to link up your own post about a minister who mattered to you!
MinistryMatters.com “Why Ministers Matter” blog tour 10/1/2012 – 10/12/2012.