Crystal Cathedral

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Kindness Korner

FYI ----- about me and ministry

“What Motivated Me to Enter the Ministry?”

Chapter 1

During my college years, and before, I never considered becoming an ordained minister. I did not think about it and reject the idea. I never even considered it. My older brother Woody was supposed to go to seminary. Our Pastor-dad had tapped him, almost at birth, for that destiny. And Woody entered college as a pre-sem, but got quickly sidelined by recreational distractions, and dropped out after one semester. My dad was a good man but his style of preaching was unsettling to me. I couldn’t imagine myself being like him.

I played basketball and tennis, enjoyed my friends, studied as needed. I had no solid goals. Guys who were headed for seminary were regarded with scorn. They were not respected by me and my friends. They were considered wimpy and lacking hearty male capacities. So the prospect of going to seminary was non-existent for me.
After completing my M.A. at Michigan State University I was employed in Kalamazoo and lived a carefree single life. Sports dominated my pastimes. I did attend church, and even volunteered to help lead the boys club at the church. So I was not without spiritual sensitivity.

It was my weekend beer-drinking conversations with friends back in Grand Rapids that started to stir something. Another stirring factor was my coach of the Teamsters Union Basketball team. He talked about Jesus and God all the time. Every other phrase was “Jesus Christ!” or “God Damn”. Beside that, on our out of town trips, he often took along a woman—other than his wife.

One other circumstance contributed. My job as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor started in a national recession. There were no jobs, and I was trying to find employment for handicapped, and illiterate minorities. That too made me, for the first time, ask: “Is this what I intend to do with my life?”

One of my friends had applied to a seminary I’d never heard of, in Philadelphia. It was called Westminster. The only requirement for consideration was a college degree. I decided to apply. One problem. I needed a Pastor to recommend me. I knew none very well. So I asked Dr.Bratt, a Bible Prof. at Calvin College, who also followed our basketball team there, when I played. So he knew me somewhat. It felt risky. My reputation at Calvin College was anything but ministerial. It was more along the line of “fun-loving, friend-oriented, athlete.” But he enthusiastically endorsed me, to my surprise, and I was accepted at Westminster.

Almost impulsively I decided to go. I quit my job, prayed a little, and did have one ecstatic spiritual moment that seemed to affirm my new direction. With my ’55 Chevy loaded with everything I owned, I headed East. I told my Dad virtually at the last minute. I had never consulted him, or confided with him, about my intentions. It was just God and me—and my friends. Eighteen hours later I arrived in Philadelphia. My life in ministry was underway.

1 comment:

  1. hi
    I read this with interest ... Thank you for sharing .... Anne