Saint Paul wrote to Timothy, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” [2 Timothy 4:2 ESV] Paul also reminded the elders in Ephesus, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28 ESV]
Pastors are called by God to a particular place to proclaim the Gospel and to administer the sacraments according to Christ’s institution. Their first priority is to remain faithful to the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Their next responsibility is to the family which God entrusted to them. Then they care for the Church, primarily the local congregation to which they are called, but also for the Church at large.
From time to time, as it pleases God, He calls a man from one congregation to another. When a pastor receives a call, he must determine if it is best to leave his current congregation, or to move to the new.
Eighteen months ago, within days of the fire which destroyed our home in Arvada, I received two calls. With the stress of the fire, and other considerations, I could not in good conscience accept either one. Although we do not believe that God speaks to us outside of the clear Word of God, He does make His will known. How that happens is a topic for a future article.
Now, however, as our circumstances have changed, and after prayerful consideration, I believe that I may best serve God and my family by accepting the call to serve the saints at Trinity Lutheran Church, Slayton, Minnesota. There are opportunities in Slayton similar to the ones in Leadville, with some additional opportunities which simply do not exist here, such as short devotions broadcast by the local radio station. In addition, there are some opportunities as a CAP Chaplain which cannot be fulfilled if I stay.
Most importantly, however, and the biggest consideration, is the health of the family with which God has entrusted me. I was a husband before I was a pastor.
The question was raised, “What will happen to the congregation once you leave?” God entrusts His flock to the proper under-shepherd of Christ. Though the laborers are few and the harvest is plentiful, we pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers into His fields. The proper pastor will accept the call to Good Shepherd, even as, I believe, the proper pastor has accepted the call to Trinity.
No matter what happens, we will preach the Word, in season and out of season, as long as our loving heavenly Father allows us to serve Him. Be it in Leadville, or Arvada, or Slayton, the message is the same. We are saved by grace alone for the sake of Christ Jesus alone. The faith which holds to Jesus as our Savior was given to us through the working of the Holy Spirit and He used the Word and Sacraments to create and sustain that faith.
In time, probably a very short time, my name will not frequently be mentioned here in Leadville. My prayer, the message I was privileged to proclaim, that your sins are forgiven because Jesus Christ carried them on the cross, paying the price of our transgressions, will remain.
May God richly bless this congregation through Christ Jesus, our Lord.