Summary: Presents a vision for our church of being a hospital, a greenhouse, and a festival (presented in the context of a candidating sermon)
A Vision For Laurier
Steve Simala Grant, March 9/10, 2002
Thoughts on Call:
We’ve been calling this weekend “Candidating Weekend.” I knew very soon after the search committee asked to present my name to you for your prayers and discernment, that part of what I needed to do was present some vision for where I believe God is leading us as a congregation. I’m in a unique position to do this, since I know our church and have been a part of it, and so I’m excited about the opportunity to share this with you today. This makes the conversation about me as potential senior pastor a conversation about my calling and ability, but also about our direction as a church – and that is something I think is helpful and valuable.
But before getting into vision, I want to share for a few moments my perspective on possibly becoming Laurier’s senior pastor, because a lot has changed for me in the past 8 months. If you’re new and don’t know the background, I worked here in youth and Christian Ed for more than 10yrs, then resigned to finish my M.Div. degree and be a stay at home dad.
Last Sunday morning I had a few moments to chat with Freda Kemp, talking about my name being presented for consideration. She made a fascinating comment to me, completely true: “you weren’t ready 8 months ago.” She told me she knew after that first Sunday I preached in July that it should be me, but she knew I wasn’t ready. So she prayed for me, twice a day, that God would bring me to a greater place of readiness. And I believe He has. Do I feel ready?? Nope! Honestly, I feel more than a little inadequate. Like my skills aren’t finely honed, my experience is lacking, my personal depth isn’t enough. And that has been the major source of my prayer around this issue – I have said repeatedly: “Lord, if you call me, you have to equip me. I know I can’t do it without you, and I don’t even want to try.”
So what has changed for me? Lots of things. One of the biggest is that being the interim pastor gave me the confidence that I could preach on a weekly basis – something that had always been extremely intimidating. That confidence also grew through the completion of my education. Being the interim pastor rekindled my love for ministry, for serving God’s people. And it also rekindled my love for you, for this church. I never stopped caring, in the 9 or so months when I wasn’t on staff, and it was a good time for me personally and for us as a family, but I was less involved with people and with the ministry here. Over the last 8 months I’ve realized how much I do love this church and you the people here, and that I’d love to be your pastor. I needed to learn those things before I’d be ready to hear God’s call.
A second thing that has changed is our family dynamics. Joanne and I had decided that if we started a family, one of us would stay home to raise our family. We always expected it would be me. I’ve been home for almost a year – and as much as I’ve valued it and enjoyed it and loved it, it has also been very very difficult. There have been a couple of times when I’ve gotten pretty depressed. There have been times of feeling trapped, feeling sad, feeling alone. At the same time, Joanne was feeling a greater desire to be home more, to spend more time with Thomas. So we’ve wanted to make some changes that would allow me to be in ministry more and Joanne to be home more, without completely sacrificing her career. Sunday night I’ll get into this a little more and explain how Joanne and I see the details of this working out.
The final thing that has changed is that I’ve felt God calling me to this position. The roots of the call go back to when Dave first resigned, and we started talking about him being Moses. I kept hearing pastors and leaders and Dave talking about making way for Joshua – about a good transition to a new leader. I had just finished a course on the first five books of the Bible where we had talked a bit about Joshua, how he had been a faithful servant of Moses for a long time, learning from him, standing beside him, leading with him. And even then I thought that best fit me, but I thought “no way; that’s just a coincidence…”
Personally, I have always had a stronger “outer” sense of calling rather than “inner” – what I mean by that is that God has always called me most strongly through His people rather than through some inner sense to just me. Throughout the interim period, a number of you had encouraged me, some very persistently, to throw my hat into the rim, and so Joanne and I started to consider that possibility. And then one Sunday morning, as I preached, Joanne felt it was right, and she felt that I should be in this role or a similar one to it. I can’t under-state how significant that was to our decision process, Joanne feeling God’s call in that way. I had enough inner sense of call to approach the search committee and ask them to consider it, pray about it – and I was clear that I only wanted God’s will for Laurier and for my family. Isabelle has shared that the search committee does feel that God is calling me to this role, and so brought my name before you. So now the final step is for our whole congregation to pray and seek God’s guidance, and once that is done, to vote about whether or not to extend a call to me.