One of the benefits of living to a certain age is the opportunity to look back and see how things unfolded in your life. I still remember the day in 1981 as if it was yesterday when Hebron Baptist Church voted unanimously to call me as their pastor. I had no experience and no education beyond high school. The only thing I did have was the absolute confidence God had called me to pastor a church. Few churches would have called me as their pastor, but God led me to one that would.
Although bivocational ministry was not uncommon in those days, it was not widely respected by many denominational leaders and others in church leadership. For 20 years I served that church as a bivocational pastor until I was called to a judicatory ministry position at least in part because of my experience with bivocational ministry. Never did I think this ministry opportunity would present itself, but God opened the door.
Soon after beginning my pastoral ministry I decided that I needed some formal education if I was going to be a more effective minister. Working a full-time job, pastoring a church, and raising a family did not lend itself to pursuing an education, but God opened a door that allowed me to attend a Bible school. After completing that program he made it possible for me to continue my education allowing me to earn three degrees. Even now I sometimes wonder how that happened, but I realize that God kept opening doors and I kept walking through them.
One of my frustrations as a pastor was the lack of resources specifically created for bivocational ministers. Towards the end of my pastoral ministry I decided to try to write a book that would encourage bivocational ministers and present this ministry as a viable option that others should consider. I had never attempted to write a book before, but I sat down and began to write. A couple of years later that book was published becoming the first of eight books (so far) that I've published on bivocational and small church ministry. God opened a door that gave me an opportunity to not only write but to lead workshops and conferences for bivocational and small church leaders for numerous denominational bodies.
I mention these things not to focus on what I've done with my life but to recognize that God is continually preparing us for doors he plans to open for us to walk through. Scripture is clear that even before we are born God has a plan for our lives. I sometimes wonder how many times God has opened a door for me that I refused to enter thus missing out on that opportunity he had for me. How many times have I failed to prepare myself for an opportunity that God couldn't give me because I wasn't ready?
I also mention these things to encourage you to look for the doors God may be opening for you. Too many of us limit ourselves by failing to take advantage of the opportunities God gives us. We are presented with an opportunity but begin to make excuses why we couldn't possibly do that. Have you ever been faced with a ministry opportunity that you turned down because you are "Just a bivocational minister?" Do you spend more time looking at all the things you don't have than you do looking at what God has been doing in your life that may have prepared you for more responsibilities? In one of the sermons I sometimes preach I remind the congregation that "God is more interested in your availability than in your capability."
Believe me that although I was excited about being called as the pastor of that small, rural church, I was also fearful because I didn't know if I could lead a church. When I was asked to come on our region staff it was also a fearful time. By then I knew I could pastor that church, but I had no idea about how well I could serve in this new role. I know what you experience at times when God seems to be opening new doors for you, but if he is opening the door it means that he knows you are capable of performing the task. If God is opening a door for you he just wants you to be available, and if you'll do that he'll make you capable.
Is God opening a door for you?