The Call

How did I ever end up becoming a pastor? Was it the result of a career decision on my part, like when I left the Saskatchewan Government Insurance Office to accept a job with Co-operators Insurance Services or was there something else going on as well? I believe my move from the insurance industry to pastoral ministry was a result of a divine call on my life. But it didn’t happen all at once, God began to prepare me for this change.

In 1977, shortly after Iona’s conversion I started to feel a frustration with my job. I was working in marketing, selling insurance to Co-ops and Credit Unions. I had sold an insurance policy to the Chamberlain Credit Union and remember coming home asking myself if the world were a better place because of that sale. The answer was a definite “No!”. So, what was I doing there? I didn’t feel that I should leave the company and prepare for pastoral ministry, rather I still felt that I could best serve the Lord working for an insurance company, but not as a sales and service representative. I saw a job posting that felt like it might be a good fit. It was to become a training officer but not in Regina – in Guelph Ontario. There was one significant problem with the posting – it required that the successful applicant have a Bachelor of Education degree. I didn’t have a degree of any kind so I thought the job would never be for me.

I noticed that the closing date for the job came and went and there was no announcement of someone being named to that position, and the posting remained on the bulletin board. After about a month, with the job still being posted, I decided to take a chance and threw my hat into the ring. The job’s supervisor had a trip planned to come to Regina, so, as a courtesy, he offered to interview me for the job. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my chances of getting the job were almost non-existent. But something happened as the interview progressed, I had experience that might just make up for my lack of a degree. I left feeling very optimistic that I would be offered the position. I was getting excited, but days and weeks passed, and I heard nothing. Finally, I was given the news, that shortly after I had been interviewed someone else had also applied for the job. He had experience every bit as good as mine and the kicker was that he also had earned a Bachelor of Education degree. I was thanked for my interest, and I was devastated.

I called my pastor to talk about what had happened. We sat in his car and I poured out my heart to him. He tried to assure me that everything would be alright. I was bitterly disappointed and felt that God had let me down. In a moment of epiphany, I realized that although I had given ownership to God of my life, in the language of the Church of the Nazarene, I had consecrated my life to God. Everything had been given to God, everything that is except for how I earned my living. I felt that God was allowing me to retain control of that piece of my life. As I turned over my occupation to God, I was ready to hear His call on my life.

The next summer Iona and I took our boys – Jeff,  Steve, and Tim – to family camp at Arlington Beach. I had never attended a camp meeting before and I loved it. We were ministered to in music by a couple called Jonathan and Ilona Welch, they had been opera singers from the United States. The evangelist for the week was also an American. He had been serving as chaplain at Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego. His name, are you ready, was James Bond. Really! He preferred to be called Jim Bond. I took an immediate liking to him. Our district superintendent Rev. Alexander Ardrey served as sort of a Master of Ceremonies for each of the services. He asked us to sign up of an hour of prayer and invited people to write down their prayer requests. I took advantage of that opportunity and went into the little chapel to pray. There was a notebook filled with prayer requests. I couldn’t bring myself to pray for these requests, something else was on my mind – was God calling me to be a pastor? I recognized that I could have been responding to the emotions that the meetings had excited in me. I knew that a response to an emotional environment couldn’t carry me through a life of pastoral ministry. As a result, I said nothing to Iona. If the call was real, it would still be there when we returned to our home.

I knew that if God was calling me to the pastoral ministry, He also had to call Iona. We had to do this together. I didn’t have to wait long for a confirmation. On the way home, Iona asked me “So when are we going to do it?” God had also been speaking to her and we both were ready to accept His call.

This was July of 1978. We made the decision to remain in Regina and attend the Canadian Bible College and stay in our home church rather than moving to Winnipeg to attend Canadian Nazarene College. We sold our home and moved into a low-cost rental home that suited our needs completely. On occasion God tested our resolve to continue the process and in 1982 I left CBC and accepted a call to my first congregation in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

I learned that God covers all His bases, and we were now ready to begin a journey of vocational ministry that would span almost forty years. What a ride it has been! As you face major challenges and decisions in your life, remember to Keep the Son in Your Eyes.

3 thoughts on “The Call

  1. Caralee Pratte

    Yes! You have definitely been called to practice the pastoral and teaching gifts. Thanks for listening to the small voice which can be so persistent…

    Glad too that the Spirit spoke to both you and Iona.
    What a team!

  2. John Scissons

    Thank you, Len! Started to reply and then got called away.
    Great testimony of God working in in both of your lives and the power of agreement with each other and with the Lord!
    Thanks again, Len.- very encouraging and good example for all of us to follow

  3. erinpatreyahoocom

    Loved hearing your story, you are not only my Cousin, but my brother in Christ. I know more about you now than I did before. You played a very significant part in my growth as a baby Christian (you gave me an album by B. J. Thomas) It made an impact in my growth & helped me understand a lot.


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