Answering the call

John Hatcher's picture

I now have been immersed in the church culture of Fayette County since 1989, that’s 18 years, preaching upwards to 1,000 messages, conducting weddings, funerals, counseling hundreds of families and married couples. It’s been a ride. At times I wanted to get off, badly. But God called me to this enterprise of telling out the Gospel and he won’t let me do anything else.

Recently I sat down with someone very near and dear to explain “the call.” It’s been the only comfort at various and difficult times in the total years of my ministry since 1973.
The stirrings of the call were early in my life. My sisters tell me that as a small boy I would set up church at home, preach a sermon of some sorts and made sure they would take up the collection. More serious stirrings came later as I embraced the Lord and his church at age 10. From 10 on I would rather be no other place than the church and doing nothing but God stuff.

When I was a political coordinator for someone running for governor here in Georgia, I made an administrative decision that no political meetings were to be held on Wednesday nights as that was church night and choir practice night. I didn’t want anything to interfere with my church involvement.

God’s formal call to me to go into the ministry came as I was walking in a cow field outside my office in Sumter County, Ga. At the time I was Title 1 director for the school system. When he made it clear that all the other professions and vocations would never fulfill me, I told him I would get myself ready to do his work. That day I sat down and wrote for an application to Southern Seminary.

In the summer of 1973 — when the Watergate hearings were in high gear — I made ready to enter seminary the fall of 1973. When I followed the call of God it seemed that other things fell in place. Up to that time I thought I would be single the rest of my life, having never found the right woman. But that next year God introduced me to my wife now of 32 years. I would have to say that of all the Christians I have met, my wife is at the top. No one knows the trauma and hurdles a pastor’s wife must pass. My wife has done it, hung in with her own personal faith, and been there to encourage me. She is one of the strongest people I know. Although she only knew partly what she was getting into by marrying a pastor, she has been faithful through it all and I thank God he have me such a partner for life.

Sometimes churches and individuals suggest they have a keener insight into your call, even asking you to leave their presence or taking leave of your presence. If you’ve got the call, however, you just hang in there in spite of what others may think or do.

Ministry: it’s about the call. Many are called and yet do not respond. How about you?

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