Being a pastor is different from most jobs. To get to be a pastor is a different feeling because it’s a position of “calling.” Which is weird to think about. That is the first step into the direction of full-time ministry is that pastors are called by God to lead a community of people.
How did this happen and when did it start and how do you know? Well to answer all those questions: I don’t know. I know, you think it should, but the only way I can explain about my calling is simply being led one step at a time until you get to where God needs you to be. Many times, I still find myself in disbelief that somehow I am a pastor.
But to be honest, the passion to be a pastor is something I can recall. Now, passion, to me is different from a calling. Now, just so I don’t sound totally crazy, my calling didn’t come from a booming voice from heaven and me understanding exactly what the voice of God is saying. Calling, I believe is a process. It is one step after another. Nothing planned, nothing expected, and most of the time it feels serendipitous to how you got to a certain place of being and feeling. Passion is a feeling, but to me often follows with a certain known path of what is going to come next. Calling, is made, regardless of planning. Because when we boil down to it, God doesn’t care about your plans, what God has planned for you will inevitably happen, no matter what. Now, can you see the difference?
Maybe, right? But honestly before I felt called to go into ministry it first started as having a positive impression on pastors. When I was younger, I looked up to my pastor that knew me from a young boy to an adult male. I still look up to him and admire him a lot! But he gave me such a positive perspective on church and doing church work. And through my years of growing up as him being my pastor, I saw him go through a lot! Stuff that honestly prepared me for the future that I didn’t know would happen.
What I saw about him, wasn’t because he gave the most amazing sermon, or that he commanded with authority, or that everything was always perfect in his life, or that he had the coolest possessions. What he possessed was happiness. I saw that immediately. I saw that he was happy.
Now, his life wasn’t perfect, he didn’t have the coolest possessions, or the biggest house, or nicest car, or kids that behaved perfect, or a marriage that was always on the cool side of the pillow, or that everyone in the church “respected” him, or that his sermons were always the most inspiring, but what he had was happiness. He had a modest life, trying to pay off debt, he went through a hard divorce, didn’t win the trust of the congregation immediately, had power struggles with the church staff, his kids weren’t angels (I would know since they were my best friends, and we liked getting in trouble!), made mistakes at the pulpit, didn’t have the best singing voice… well let’s just say he was human. He wasn’t perfect, and he wasn’t immune to the disasters that life would throw at him. And I am sure there were plenty of moments that he wasn’t happy. (Wow, now it just sounds like I’m just roasting my childhood pastor! But that’s not the intention.)
Now there were times I saw him disappointed, sad, angry, and stressed. But in general, he always had the presence of happiness for me. When I picture him in my head, I can see his smile, his unmatched kindness, his compassion.
In my life I could have any job in the world. I believe that. I could have been a doctor, a nurse, a businessman, a lawyer, a stock trader, a teacher, factory worker, a mechanic. I don’t doubt my skills because I know if I worked hard enough, studied whatever was needed to do those things, put myself in the right place to have experience in those things, I could be any of those. But I wanted to be a pastor, and I think God implanted that feeling in me even before I knew I wanted to be a pastor, through my impression of Pastor Cunningham (he’s my childhood pastor!). I could be anything or anybody in the world, but I am a pastor. Called, and lead through the grace of God. He dragged me through every experience I had since I was young and brought me to where I am right now. I could be making a ton of money, buying my bucket list $650 Shimano Antares DC baitcasting fishing reel, or a nice bass boat with the coolest truck. But to be honest, money isn’t going to make me happy. I saw that in Pastor Cunningham. I didn’t make a lot of money, but he still was happy. I could tell he loved what he did. And I wanted to feel like that.
So think about how you carry yourself in front of other people, in front of your neighbors, friends, and family. What kind of influence are you placing on them, especially the young ones around you. I don’t think they care if you are good at your job, or if you are charismatic, a true leader, or do a bunch of stuff. The important question is that do they see you as being happy? Are you happy in what you do?
I learned two important things last week when I was in Louisville. Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson told us two things that I will never forget. Being a pastor is the hardest job you will ever love. And secondly, as pastors we aren’t called to serve, we are called to love. I like that a lot. It is true, being a pastor is the hardest job that I will ever love. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. And I do not necessarily feel called to serve, but I do feel called to love. Love all people, even the one that yell at me, even the ones that tell me that they don’t love me, even the ones that are so angry at God. I am called to love.
As Christians we are called to love, not necessarily serve. Serving is only possible with love. Serving all people, friends and people who you may find indifferent from you. And just remember whatever you do, the big things and little things, are you happy or are you doing this for a different kind of motivation. Don’t worry about whether your service will have an impact on others, worry about whether they see you as being happy.
As a pastor, I am happy. This is the hardest job I will ever have and I and grateful to be where I am always. Nothing else I’d rather want to do.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).