The Call Process: A Pastor’s Wife’s Perspective

the-divine-call My husband is a pastor. I met him when he was a Seminary student, so his intention to serve Christ and the Church has always been a part of our life, the center of our life, really.

He is rostered to serve in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. An LCMS pastor’s first parish is assigned to him straight from Seminary. After that he is generally available to receive a Call from any of our member congregations, at which time he must choose between the Call he already serves and the Calling congregation.LCMS Cross

My husband graduated from Seminary in 2009, and from there he served at a church on Long Island in New York. We lived there for about three years until he received a Call from a church in St. Louis County, Missouri. He chose to accept that Call, and we have lived here for a little over four years.

On the evening of August 7, my husband received a phone call from a Calling congregation in southeast North Dakota. Now this Call could not be more different from the parish my husband currently serves.

In Missouri, we live in a large suburb of a good-sized city, the county and the city comprise of about 1.3 million people. Our congregation is large enough that we have three worship service times. We have a thriving school with about 200 students.

In North Dakota, we would be living in a town with about 650 people, 73 miles from the nearest city. It is a dual parish, which means two small churches that are 6 miles apart. And it has no school. The whole town only has one K-12 public school.

These kinds of decisions are very difficult to make. We had been living very comfortably, making plans for the future here, and then given an opportunity that causes us to rethink everything. I really dislike not knowing what to do, where to go, or when it will happen. Some pastors may take the entire weight of these decisions upon their own shoulders, which is understandable being that they are making a choice about their vocation and occupation, but my husband values my opinion. He would never make me do anything or move somewhere that I don’t want to go.

So we have spent a lot of time researching, talking, not sleeping very well, and agonizing over what we are going to do. Thankfully our children are young enough (9, 7, 5, and 3) that they are really flexible and would be happy to live in either place. I’m sure they don’t quite understand what living 5 hours from the nearest family really means, but my husband and I are just grateful that the kids are flexible and that we homeschool, so that we don’t have to factor those things into the decision too much.

My husband spends his time contemplating the two congregations, analyzing where both ministries ohmcardare going, and determining his gifts, passions, strengths, and weaknesses and which place he could serve best. He is a very perceptive, analytical, and thoughtful man. He can and will think of all angles during this deliberation process.

I spend my time thinking about how different these two places are, how I spend my time, how I would spend my time, what we would be leaving, what we would be gaining, etc. One thing that I determined early in our marriage was that I am not opposed to living anywhere, and I would go anywhere with my husband. We have a very close and strong relationship, and as long as we are together we will do anything together.

So, ultimately this decision still ends up primarily on my husband’s shoulders, as I am not the pastor. He is. He is the one that must think about which parish needs him in particular the most. I trust him wholeheartedly to make the right decision for our family. And I will gladly stay or go where my husband decides he needs to be.

 

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Review: Blessed

Blessed
Blessed by Christopher Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book took me a long time to get through. I just couldn’t quite get into it to breeze through it. However, it was full of good information and insight.

“Blessed” was an interesting word study of how the Hebrew word brk is used in Scripture. I love the conclusion:
“[God] comes to us with blessing through a virgin’s womb and a Father’s love, by His promise and benediction, in good times and in bad, and death shall never part us. May God look upon us and all nations with His favor and give us His peace. Amen.”

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Review: The Messengers: Discovered

The Messengers: Discovered
The Messengers: Discovered by Lisa M. Clark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this story. It is a dystopia with real hope, because the secret faction is comprised of Christians trying to preserve the Word of God.

Simon Clay loves to find hidden pamphlets, but it can get him into serious trouble with the government. When he finds out by accident that his father aids the Messengers at night, he discovers a Word that offers Truth that he wasn’t sure existed anymore.
Simon begins a journey of faith and true knowledge that leads him to share the Word to his own peril.

This novel could have used a better proofreader, but it was well-written and a quick read. I am looking forward to the next installment.

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Review: The Executioner’s Redemption: A Story of Violence, Death, and Saving Grace

The Executioner's Redemption: A Story of Violence, Death, and Saving Grace
The Executioner’s Redemption: A Story of Violence, Death, and Saving Grace by Timothy R Carter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was convicting for me. I realized while reading that I hoped to read carnal stories about people’s crimes that brought them to death row. What I got was a kick in the pants about how little I seek God’s kingdom in His Word and through prayer on a daily basis. Thank you to Rev. Carter for giving me Law and Gospel in this book.

I would recommend this book to any police officer, correctional officer, etc. that deals with inmates and law enforcement on a regular basis. I can think of a few people that work in that industry that I will be recommending this book to. It is a good reminder of how a Christian is called to love even the human wolves among us.

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Review: An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel

An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel
An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel by Ray Keating

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my least favorite of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels so far. The plot wasn’t as exciting, and we didn’t get to spend as much time with the main characters. Each chapter was very short, which is fine, but we didn’t get a lot of good dialogue or a very lengthy plot. It was more like a novella than a novel.

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Review: Les Miserables

Les Miserables
Les Miserables by Monica Kulling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a good retelling of the fantastic story of redemption and forgiveness that is Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.” It got the main plot across so that children can understand and appreciate the stage show and the original book as they grow up.

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Review: Being Lutheran

BeingLutheran The first half of Being Lutheran has a lot of history of the Reformation and information about the time of Martin Luther (the 1500’s) and how Luther’s teachings were different from the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. However, in its talk of how Lutherans challenge being closed, lukewarm, ignorant, lazy, and pastel (which are the titles of the first five chapters) it doesn’t sound very specifically Lutheran.

A. Trevor Sutton uses a lot of modern language and wording in his descriptions. He certainly prefers the term “follower of Jesus” over the term Christian, which has been used since the time of the Apostles. Which is not incorrect, just trendy. Some of these modern words, phrases, and comparisons can be helpful, but some things like the mention of cat memes may not be understood by readers that don’t use social networks on the Internet.

My biggest issue is that the first half of the book doesn’t really make being Lutheran sound any different than other Bible-believing Christians. Of course any Scripture loving Christian is going to fight the impulse to be exclusive and to reach out to others who are different. Of course any lover of Jesus is going to see that sitting around the house and never praying or doing anything of service for anyone is a slap in the face to the freedom from sin that Jesus won for us on the cross. Of course any knowledgeable Christian is going to do his best to speak up in the face of mockery, try to remember to pray before meals in a restaurant, and not accept the scientific penchant of the day when it goes against God’s Word.The first half of the book should more appropriately be renamed “Being a Bible-Believing Follower of Jesus.”

The second half of Being Lutheran finally explains the doctrines that set Lutheranism apart. Lutherans take Jesus at his word and believe what he says about baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Absolution, worship, etc. This section was very good. I would recommend lifelong Lutherans to actually read this half first. It’s a little easier to hear what you should be doing (the first half) when you’ve been filled with the Good News of God’s Word (the second half). Other Christians should read the book in order because you can see what Lutherans and other Christians have in common before reading about our differences.

My only issue in the second half of the book is in the chapter titled Ordinary. Sutton says, “The flashiest thing you will find amongst Lutherans is an overly polished pectoral cross.” That’s not an accurate or fair statement. Plenty of Lutheran churches have beautiful windows, fancy processional crosses, and pastors wearing beautiful robes. Christian freedom allows for these things. So saying that Lutherans aren’t flashy writes off a good portion of Lutherans that retain more of the “high church” things than others. So unless his definition of “flashy” is simply to mean that Lutherans don’t do or have these things for the reason that they are earning God’s favor, then fine. But if he means that we so value simplicity that you won’t hear the majesty of a pipe organ with a timpani on Sunday morning, then we have a problem.

Overall, this was a good book, though I’m not sure who the target audience would be. He probably was trying to write a little for everyone. For pastors and those with more theological knowledge he throws in Latin and German terms. For typical laypeople he uses simple language. For those very engrossed in current lingo he uses that kind of language, too. For all types of Christians this book can be a useful primer into how Lutherans belief, think, and act. And for Lutherans it can be the kick in the pants that you need to remember to fulfill your vocations and serve your neighbors “as for the Lord and not for men.