My call to pastoring felt like a mix of divine prank and human bumbling. I was one day minding my own business, the next setting up office in a small-town Baptist church. The door had a fresh-engraved plaque on it: "Pastor Mark."

How did that happen? Even now it's not entirely clear to me. I wasn't looking for it, dreaming of it, wishing it were so. I wasn't trained for it. It fell out of a blue sky. It leapt out of still water. It rounded a corner and came straight at me.

It took me completely by surprise.

In spite of that, because of that, it took me years to crack the enigma of calling. Was I truly called? Was I deluded? Was I a fraud? Was I an exemplar? Was my call akin to the Apostle Paul's—a holy ambush—or more like that of the Sons of Thunder, James and John: a self-appointment, a willful and selfish choosing of my own seat in the Kingdom?

Just as I was getting some handle on that, another challenge was thrust on me: how do I, as Pastor Mark, help those I am called to serve ...

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