I was saved when I was ten and called to the ministry at the age of fifteen. I remember being very confused about why God would call me to the ministry and I really didn’t know what it meant to be “called” anyway. I didn’t fully understand my calling until God clarified it when I was eighteen. Here is the story:
It was a typical day in a small Texas town as I began my shift at a local restaurant. I would like to think the establishment desperately needed me to be there that day, but the truth is I was just a greeter. Most people would look at the greeter as someone who was working towards becoming a waiter or waitress. Most people would view being a greeter as a simple occupation. I am not most people. First, I did not want to become a waiter. Second, I was terrified to be a greeter! I did not want to become a waiter because that seemed more terrifying than greeting.
The Greeter and The Waiter were both required to talk to strangers and so I chose the path of least resistance. The Greeter talked to strangers less! Looking back on the incident, being the greeter should have been an easy gig for me. I really only had to memorize one line: “Smoking or Non-smoking?” It was that easy.
Most of the time people would enter the restaurant and say, “Hello.” This simple greeting would give me, as an extreme introvert, a platform from which to stand as I continued the conversation with my famous one-liner, “Hello. Smoking or Non-smoking?” They would tell me their preference and I would seat them appropriately. Things were working out smoothly.
And then my greatest fear came true! I had just returned to the front of the restaurant after successfully seating a family of four when it happened. An elderly couple entered the front doors and just stared at me. It seemed like days passed by before I realized they were not going to say the magic word, “Hello.” This was the word I had relied on so often in order to have conversations with people. It may seem silly now, but I truly was such an introvert that even starting a conversation would almost cripple me at times. Oh, how God has changed that in my life today! But back to the story. After a few awkward moments of silence I finally choked out the words, “Hello. Smoking or Nonsmoking?” They told me and I sat them appropriately.
As I was walking back to the front of the restaurant I heard God whisper to me. Have you ever had God whisper to you? It never gets old. It is funny to think that God would choose to whisper to me during a shift at work, but the older I get the more I notice that God wants to whisper to me all throughout the day. It is as if he wants to have a close, intimate relationship with me. Who would have thought that the God of the universe would waste his time on me! But it was like he leaned over and whispered to my heart that day. And this is what he said. “Preston, that is all I need you to do. All I need you to do is take people from where they are to where they need to be.”
I remember feeling overwhelmed by the simplicity of that statement. He then said, “That couple did not say anything to you because they knew you had the knowledge and resources to take them from where they were (the entrance) to where they needed to be (an open table) in order to be fed. I have given you the knowledge (the Bible) and the resources (the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts) to take people from where they are to where they need to be in order to be fed.”
That day I had an epiphany! Above all else, ministry is about moving people from where they are in relationship with God to where they need to be. We must become GREETERS! So, don’t be afraid to join The Called and greet well, my friends!