April 25, 2019

Pastoral Nuggets: Getting Started

When I announced my call to preach my pastor said to me, “So, you’re called to preach?”  I said, “Yes sir. I am.”

He responded, “Well, then don’t you ever come into this church unless you’re prepared to preach. The Bible says to be instant in season and out, and I will give you the pulpit on a moment’s notice.” I thought he was kidding.

However, one Sunday morning while he stood in the pulpit making announcements, he announced to the church that we were going to have a special speaker that morning.

Like everybody else, I began to look around to seem who it was. He then said, “Brother Aaron McCollough will be bring the message this morning.”

Well, that was certainly news to me! I was dumbfounded! But listen, it’s amazing how well you can pray, trust God, prepare, and preach a sermon – with a fifteen-minute notice!

However, the sermon I just spoke about wasn’t my first sermon. That occurred on a Wednesday night. My pastor was scheduled to be out of town. So, he asked me to handle the service for him.

As I made my way to the church, I almost didn’t make it. My car kept trying to turn around and go home! To say that I was scared out of my gourd would be the understatement of the century! I remember mounting the pulpit and scanning the congregation. It looked like there was a thousand people in attendance that night.

However, in reality, there may have been thirty-five there. As I began to preach, I stammered, hemmed, and hawed for what seemed to me like an eternity. I was in a mental fog! I was having great difficulty forming my words and I couldn’t string two intelligent thoughts together. I was panicking! However, a few of those older Godly Church Mothers began to sense what was happening. They began to pray.

Then, something happened to me that had never happened before and has never happened since. The Holy Ghost fell upon me in such power that for about fifteen minutes I literally lost consciousness of what I was doing.

In that particular church, the pulpit platform was raised and there were cutouts on either side for the piano and the organ. When I came back to myself, I was standing over the organ preaching up a storm.

Afterward, I asked my friend what happened. He said, “Oh man, it was awesome! The Holy Spirit fell on you and you’d go preach to the piano for a few minutes, then the organ, then the piano, and then the organ!  I ain’t never seen anything like it!” And from that moment forward I’ve been a forty-five-minute preacher trapped in a thirty-minute world!

When God called me to preach, there was a gaggle of us young preachers coming through the shoot at the same time. My pastor, Rev. Russell Simpson, called all of us preacher boys together one day. He said, “Boys, I know y’all want to preach. And I want you to preach! And I’m going to do everything within my power to give you as many pulpit preaching opportunities as I can.

However, I am the pastor of this church and the people expect to hear me preach. So, boys, I want to tell you something. If you’re truly called to preach, you’ll find a place to preach. It may be in the hospital, nursing home, jail, or in somebody’s home, but if you’re truly called, you’ll find a place!”

And I’m proud to say that I cut my Spiritual eye-teeth preaching in cottage prayer meetings, nursing homes, and jails. And I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything in the world! Oh, what precious memories I have of those dear saints of God who opened their hearts and homes to a young preacher boy like me. They loved me unconditionally!

What is the Spiritual takeaway from this column today? Everything in nature has a beginning, even our Spiritual calling. We must start somewhere. And when we do, God will have both the people and resources around us that we will need.  “… And whom He called, them He also justified, and who he justified, them he also glorified!” Romans 8: 30(b) (KJV)

I’m glad that when I got started on this glorious journey of preach His gospel, God knew and provided what I would need. Regardless of your calling, He’ll do the same for you. So, what are you waiting on? There’s no better time to start than right now!

Brother Aaron

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