A couple of weeks ago I bought an architect’s scale. Some of you don’t what that is. I wasn’t even sure they made them anymore. I had used them in college and my first few years after college as I worked as an engineer but I thought they may have gone the way of the slide rule and the four-function calculator but I was mistaken. They still make architect’s scales. They are sort of like a triangular shaped ruler that is set up in various drawing scales: 1/4 inch equals 1 foot; 1/8 inch equals 1 foot, 3/32 inch equals 1 foot. They are used for drawing architect’s drawings of buildings to various scales. Here is what one looks like
You may wonder what a preacher needs with an architect’s scale. Well that is somewhat the point. Back in August I resigned my position as pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church and began to look for work in a place outside the church. I did not come to a point in my life where I decide that I no longer wanted to serve as a pastor. Circumstances (massaged by the sovereignty of my heavenly Father) brought about the situation that I was no longer a pastor.
At this point because of so many things having to do with the pastorate in general and my calling to a specific church in particular called me to think about my future as a pastor. I decided that at least for the time being I would look for work in what many now call “the marketplace”. They give it this name to note that the calling to the pastorate is no less glorious than the call to the marketplace, the place of commerce and sales where a large number of Christian men and women find themselves living every day.
Since my background (it what seems like another life now!) was in engineering I began to talk with a group of men, who were my friends, who had started a commercial real estate service company (Insight CRE Services and Insight 360 Solutions – both have pages on Facebook – great companies, great group of men and women working there) and I began to learn again how to do what was called in my high school and college days as “mechanical drawing”. When I first started all of this was done at a large desk with what was called a T-square, triangles and architect’s and engineer’s scales. Well now it is all done on computers, on laptops!
When I worked as an engineer for Duke Power Company, they were doing this on computer but they were computers that took up whole rooms and you had to run your drawing program over night when no other computer work was being done. My! How things change. The computers looked something like this
So how did I “feel” when making this purchase (I needed to measure actual physical drawings and convert them to computer drawings) that marked a major change in my life?
I am not saying that at this point in my life I have decided that I will no longer serve Christ’s kingdom as a pastor-teacher. I have come to realized in the past few weeks and months that being a pastor is not simply something that I simply decided to do at some point in time many years ago but have come to understand that being a pastor-teacher is something that God called me to be and has now truly become part of who I truly am.
But at this point in my life that does not appear to be an option for me. So I have set sail into this new/old area of my life. I found it thrilling! Long ago I came to understand that there was no sacred/secular dichotomy in life. God was equally served with glory and honor by the house painter called to be a house painter as He was by a pastor called to be a pastor.
After the session at Trinity asked me to consider resigning, they gave me a month long sabbatical to pray about my calling and to meet with various friends and mentors to help me understand my calling. Part of that sabbatical took me and Debbie to St. Louis to spend time with friends Matt and Roberta Creamer. While there I had time to talk with Brian Chapell, president of Covenant Seminary. He reminded me of something his predecessor and my friend Paul Kooistra often said: “If God has called you to sell shoes, that is what you should do”. At this point I don’t know if God is now calling me to be a pastor or to work at commercial real estate services (my version of selling shoes) but I know that I can trust his leadings.
So for now I am learning the computer program called AutoCAD. I am learning how to draw what I used to call “blueprints” and I am learning to create 360 degree internet tours of real estate properties and I am learning to rest in God’s arms. Debbie and I are not sure where we will be this time next year but we are certain, that no matter the circumstances our Father will be with us and our Older Brother will be praying for us.