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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Medicine Hat

UPDATE: I spoke with a representative from the Medicine Hat congregation yesterday, Lou. What a great old saint! I hadn't personally spoken to anyone from the congregation, having only been informed that my name was given as a possible candidate to shepherd this flock. Along with that information I was given Lou's phone number as a contact and encouraged to call. Not wanting to put it off for too long, I called yesterday before leaving for prayer meeting. Lou and I spoke for ten minutes and thirty four seconds (digital phones... pffft), but in that time I got the sense of a man who loves the Lord. Apparently many of the larger churches in the area are following in the footsteps of Saddleback and Willow Creek - and some of the faithful who see the danger of this are pulling out and congregating together. Lou wasn't terribly specific about the need though. The impression I got from Pastor Bill (my mentor) was that this congregation was looking for a full time pastor because they didn't have one. After speaking with Lou I was left somewhat confused.

I should explain - Pastor Bill's hearing loss makes it sometimes fun when he passes on information from say, a telephone conversation with Lou to an in person meeting with me. :-D So when he passed on the information to me, there were gaps that needed filling.

I contacted Lou as soon as politely possible just in case he was expecting a call immediately. I didn't really have time to talk, so the purpose of my conversation was to establish that I had spoken with Pastor Bill, and that Pastor Bill had given me his number and some information about Lou's situation - and that I would call him for a more substantial conversation when time permitted - likely tonight or tomorrow.

He briefly described their situation, and I wasn't entirely sure at the end of the conversation exactly what they were looking for. It sounded sort of like they want to bring in an itenerant "outreach" minister - an "evangelist" (if you will) to either drum up some converts, or more likely perhaps to come in and organize/direct an evangelical campaign in the area.

I didn't want to press him at that time to clearly define the ministry position - so what you have read is my take on it. I will post more when I know more. At this point I suspect there may have been some miscommunication somewhere between Lou's originally stated interest and what was eventually transmitted to me via Pastor Bill - recall that P. Bill doesn't have the best ears anymore...

So for the first seven minutes or so Lou and I introduced ourselves, and Lou gave me a very brief description of what they were looking for. I explained that I was calling to establish a report, and that I would be available to speak more fully to the matter in the next day or so - then we prayed together and said good bye.

So I am still requesting prayer. It may well be that their current pastor is itenerant, it may be that they are seeking an itenerant, etc. These points were sort of glossed over in our conversation. I plan to have them cleared up next time I speak with him - either way their congregation needs prayer too; They obviously are distraught with the direction the major churches are taking in Medicine Hat - and they will need wisdom to deal with this whether I am called to that congregation or not.

Thanks for the continued prayer.

Medicine Hat is a small community in Alberta Canada (population: 56K), and it also happens to be the place where a small group of believers (about 40 or so) meets regularly without a shepherd of their own.

Why is this Important to me?

The pastor who has been mentoring me both in shepherd's college for the past five or six years and also in a weekly one-on-one mentorship for the past year publishes a newsletter wherein he mentioned recently that he had a young man in his mentorship that he personally believed was ready for the pastorate. I don't subscribe to his newsletter so I am telling you this secondhand.

I am the candidate that he was referring to - and I mention medicine hat because my old pastor was approached recently by one of the members of this congregation. They are currently meeting together regularly, but do not have their own pastor, and this fellow has asked my mentor to have me contact him in the event that I might be a suitable candidate for candidacy.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I take a calling to shepherd quite seriously - trembling before the thought of being spiritually responsible for others. So when an opportunity like this presents itself specifically and only to me - I stop and take note.

Now, it is significant to me that I have been rather careful not to pray for a ministry. Like Jonah, I have gone far out of my way to avoid being called to the ministry - I say this to my own shame. I am well established in my church (in my own opinion at least), and that level of spiritual investment is difficult to walk away from. But yesterday morning, I prayed earnestly that the Lord would open a door to full time ministry for me. In the back of my heart, unspoken but certain, was the hope that such a ministry was still fifteen or twenty years off - you know the scenario - my call to ministry would be a retirement thing, once I am eligible for pension I can retire and go into full time ministry - secure in my pension payout, such that the wages of ministry would only augment my income - that is, I would be free to flop on my face bringing without bringing financial ruin to my family.

I say it is significant, because I have avoided being entirely up front with God on this - and yesterday morning, I finally prayed in earnest that God could direct my life and give me a ministry if he really felt I was capable.

So when I went for mentoring last night I was a little stunned to hear that this congregation was interested in speaking to me about ministry.

Now, I have been considered for candidacy before - and while I was careful to put it before the Lord, yet I didn't think I was free in my spirit to really answer these calls - and putting them to the Lord, they came to nothing (that is, whatever original interest was expressed in seeking my candidacy didn't grow beyond that) and I praise God for that. It wasn't that I went and candidated and was rejected, but that the original interest in candidacy didn't pan out into a candidacy. I say that I was careful to bring these things to God's throne, but while my pastor had already begun to pray that God would provide a ministry for me, I neglected to do so. I was intimidated by the thought - much like the little bird in the nest - I wasn't going to hop out on my own.

Well, as it happens, I battled with that for a while, and like I mentioned, yesterday I finally gave it up to the Lord. God seems to be answering this prayer with great speed - but I am cautious. I suppose that some would immediately assume that this is God's will because it appears to be an immediate answer to a very specific prayer. Never the less, I am not convinced thus.

Which is the point of this post. I need to consider these things prayerfully, and I would appreciate prayer on the matter.

In particular, I see that I am hesitant to leave my current financial security - which demonstrates to me that I have shuffled some of my reliance on God to reliance on my job. I need to be free from that regardless of whether I am called to this ministry or not. Mostly I need discernment. I don't want to miss the will of God on the left hand or on the right. Perhaps my zeal for ministry would cause me to go ahead of the Lord? Perhaps my concerns about security would cause me to make excuses to avoid God's will? Perhaps I am not really called, but sorely deluded. All such avenues must be considered, and considered prayerfully - so I appreciate any prayer that you might be inclined to offer.

If I could even direct your prayer specifically - ask God to treat me like a total imbecile - making His will utterly clear to my dense understanding.

posted by Daniel @ 10:42 AM  
19 Comments:
  • At 11:52 AM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    I will beseech the Lord on your behalf, Daniel, and that of your family. He has used you mightily to glorify Him here, and I have no doubt He will continue to do so - wherever He calls you. I will pray for clarity and understanding on your part, along with strength and wisdom for the journey. Whatever your (and your family's) needs are - financial and otherwise - if you do go into full-time ministry, I have no doubt that He will provide. And abundantly so.

     
  • At 2:18 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Sigh, sometimes writing can leave the wrong impression. I didn't mean riches or wealth in abundance, like the current 'prosperity gospel' preached out there. You know I meant His continued provision and blessing, don't you? Perhaps I should have said "sufficiently so." Just didn't wanna be misunderstood.

     
  • At 2:23 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    The thought never even came into my mind. ;^D

     
  • At 2:36 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Daniel,

    It is good to take such a calling seriously. If you are called to such a position, you will be held accountable for the souls under your care. I am not very comfortable with that.

    As for the 'struggle' with whether or not this is the right timing or direction for you, I tend to take a rather straightforward, simplistic view of this. We read in 1 Timothty 3:1, "If a man desires the position of bishop..." Do you desire the position? This is a requirement. It is not egotistical, weird, selfish, hammish, or sinful to desire the office of overseer. After all, Paul continues by saying, "...he desires a good work."

    Secondly, I would ask if others see this potential, desire, and talent for the work evident in you? It seems that they do. If you have the desire and the affirmation of dependable brothers, then all you need is opportunity. A godly man's desire coupled with the trustworthy testimony of the brethren equals candidacy for the position as I understand Scripture.

    Here are things that are not to be considered in barring you from the good work:

    1. Being poor as dirt. (You get used to it. Not that I am as poor as dirt now, but I have been.)

    2. Being as poor as dirt. (Blessed are the poor, after all).

    3. Moving away from home and being as poor as dirt. (David said that he never saw the righteous go hungry.)

    4. Also, don't worry about money. (God takes care of the sparrows.)

    5. Finally, don't worry about starving to death. If you are hungry, I will send you some money. Besides, there are lots of deer and fish in Canada. God may send you one with a coin in its mouth.

    Humor aside, you need to be honest about whether or not you have the desire to do this or not. If you do, then don't be afraid to say so and to pursue it if you have the blessing of those in your fellowship. That's just my two cents from the backside of the bayou.

     
  • At 3:01 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Daniel,
    You are so straight forward in this post and so honest about your inner struggle over the issue. I can't help but think that is a fine quality for a pastor. I will pray for clear, unambiguous answer to your prayer. You are surely a blessing to those around you, whatever you do.

    (BTW, dirt isn't that poor, it is full of minerals) :~)

     
  • At 3:17 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Brad - I really appreciate the advice.

    I desire the position, and others in my congregation and in my personal aquaintance with one voice affirm that I am so called. My wife is on board - which is perhaps the most convincing testimony of all.

    I could call it a thousand things - but in reality it is just an opportunity to step out in faith, and I have grown accustomed my comfortable life. God is giving me a great opportunity to serve Him, an opportunity that no matter the physical cost will ultimately be good, acceptable and even perfect - yet I am struggling in my flesh to accept that. Some carnal part of me is whispering about how much I stand to lose instead of who I stand to gain.

    I dearly loved your encouragement Brad.

    Rose et. all - thanks for your prayers, and not one of those generic "all encompassing" thank-you wishes either. This is a thank you that means God works through your prayers, and there is no greater gift you can impart to me than to pray for me.

    Thanks.

     
  • At 4:11 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Andrew said…

    Hey Daniel,

    My wife and I left everything to move to a small town (13K) and pastor a smallish church (80 or so) on tiny dollars.

    It did cause us financial stress, emotional and spiritual anguish, and in the end brokendown health for me at least. But I think from reading the Gospels that this is a price I was willing to pay in order to serve God and the people he called me to shepherd.

    Some of the most wonderful, beautiful and blessed moments of our lives have been spent here, despite the difficulties. And some of the best 'growing up in the Lord' has happened for me right here in the midst of it. Your first pastorate--no matter how easy or difficult it appears to be--is the perfect place for "applied mentoring 201" Ha!

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I will be praying .. not only for God's leading in your life, but also that your (quite reasonable) fears will be allayed. The pastorate is no sane person's "career option" but, having been called of God, there is no other place in which you can truly be satisfied and no other place in which you will sense his nearness, grace and comfort.

    Enjoy!

     
  • At 4:19 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Thanks Andrew. I have given my life, my wife, my children, and all my hope to the Lord in prayer - it is the practice of that prayer that troubles me ;^)

    I appreciate the prayers - muchly.

     
  • At 5:07 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    I know your concern here is primarily for your own spiritual condition. That's good, and that needs to come first. But let me share something practical that I got from a pastoral candidate at our church a few years ago.

    He would not name a a salary, but he said that if a church wouldn't pay their pastor at least the average of the church membership income, they had some spiritual issues to deal with before they were ready for a shepherd. While you should not be in it for the money, putting first things first means providing for your family. No church worthy of your service will expect less.

     
  • At 5:57 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    David Kjos,

    That may be generally true for a larger church, but I am not certain that some smaller churches could afford such a commitment. In such cases, I am certain that they would support bi-vocational work to make up the difference.

     
  • At 9:01 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Sojourner,

    I guess I was thinking in terms of a full-time pastor. I know there are small churches who can only afford part-time pastors. Their pastors have other professions and serve the church part-time, or they have no paid elders.

    I also know of many small churches that don't pay a full-time salary, yet expect full-time commitment. Their pastors live in poverty, and/or work another job besides and run themselves ragged. I say those churches are sinning against their pastor, and that those pastors should not meekly be used that way. Part of their job as shepherd is to confront that sin and discipline it.

    Anyway, it doesn't take a very large church to pay an average salary to one pastor. Twenty families can do it quite easily. If they can't they have some fiscal and/or spiritual priorities to work out.

    We need to do away with the prevalent notion (not that you've suggested this) that pastoral poverty is virtuous or beneficial to anyone.

    [disclaimer - I am not a pastor looking for a raise, or a pastor at all.]

     
  • At 11:52 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, there is much that could be said concerning this job.

    I like the words of George Mueller who purposed to have no will of his own, but simply seek God's heart and will for his life.

    I'll pray for you to this end, that the Lord's will be made plainly evident to you.

    Jim

     
  • At 11:53 PM, January 11, 2006, Blogger pilgrim said…

    The bootom line, of course is whether this is God's calling or not, and thus your prayer request makes perfect sense to me.
    You are a steward of what God gives you, and you are responsible for your family--so I will also pray that if you do take this ministry they will be faithful in suporting you, so you may be a good steward.

    On the human side of things-Medicine Hat is a beautiful place--it has been too many years since I visited there though.
    And the weather is much milder than Winnipeg.

    Please keep us updated.

     
  • At 8:03 AM, January 12, 2006, Blogger BugBlaster said…

    We attended a church in Regina that had about 35 people at its peak attendance, and that included only about eight wage earners. There was no way we could afford to pay a pastor enough to support a family. Yet, we had a pastor, and when he retired, we got another pastor. And we paid both of them. God provided. But as has already been said, you are responsible for a family. We will be praying for you as you consider all these things and seek what God would have you do.

     
  • At 8:12 AM, January 12, 2006, Blogger Kim said…

    Wow, Daniel. That's really daunting, indeed.

    I'll be praying for you.

     
  • At 8:13 AM, January 12, 2006, Blogger Kim said…

    Wow, Daniel. That's really daunting, indeed.

    I'll be praying for you.

     
  • At 9:38 AM, January 12, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    In reading through your archives, Daniel, I just came across Sept. 23rd's entry: Extension of Term Appointment. Interesting timing, this door opening in your life at this time.
    Incidentally, we have two pastors in our country church of about 100 believers. We're an agricultural community of mostly farms. Nearest city is 60 miles away. Median income would be lower middle class, I guess.
    We have one full-time paid pastor in our church. A second was called up this past year. Chuck has a wife and two kids. Used to be a truck driver. Made a good wage.
    In 2005, Chuck approached the church about becoming a lay pastor (he had subbed for our reg. pastor on occasion), having heard the call.
    The church council (comprised of anyone with an interest in the church; all are invited) discussed it after church one day and voted unanimously to take him as lay pastor.
    Chuck has no seminary instruction (he is taking some formal instruction now), but is called. He commenced a Saturday evening service for the 'unchurched' of our community, in addition to Hispanic services (a large community in Florida) on Sunday afternoons. He doesn't speak Spanish, but is connecting with the great unwashed out there and invited a Hispanic pastor in. Chuck's on fire for the Lord. And it's spreading.
    Chuck has no salary, per se. (His wife works as a teacher's assistant.) He and his family live on church donation support. And they do it. And the body provides, voluntarily.
    I'm not saying that this is the answer for you; I'm just testifying as a witness to God's calling and provision. It's exhilarating. And freeing.
    Chuck and his family are neither poor nor empty. To the contrary - and I see them becoming more filled as time goes on.

     
  • At 10:04 AM, January 12, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan - the timing -is- quite interesting.

    I haven't posted an update on this yet, but late last week we were all called into a meeting regarding the up and coming clustering initiative. The latest news is that all the terms (in my office at least) are going to be made permanent employees without full time equivalent positions come April one. That is, they will not have a "staff year" but they will be considered permanent employees. I am included in this group, so it means more "job security" for me.

    This coming just prior to the possibility in Medicine hat strikes me as significant. I am just not sure how.

     
  • At 11:26 AM, January 12, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…

    Dan,

    So on a lighter note, congratulations! I think this is absolutely awesome that God is providing an opportunity for you to put your time and energy into shepharding people!

    I know it's a lot to be weighted with, but at the same time, there is a sense of joy that will come with it.

    I'll keep ya in my prayers!

     
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