We were a small church meeting in what was formerly a convenience store.
Less than 36 months earlier, I was single, driving a UPS truck and a recent graduate of the University of North Texas. Now I was married, living in North Alabama and driving two hours each Sunday to preach at this church in middle Tennessee.
On this particular Sunday, I had just walked out of the double glass doors onto the gravel parking lot. Parked near these doors was his white Cadillac convertible. Inside was our wealthiest member. He was in his 50s, divorced, and gave the largest dollar amount each Sunday morning. He was already in his car, lighting his cigar. He motioned for me to come over to his car. The electric window on the driver’s side began to slowly come down.
He glared at me, looking very angry. He told me not to mention African-American people in the sermon anymore. (“African-American” wasn’t exactly the term that he used.) That morning, I had mentioned racism in my sermon and he wasn’t happy.
I stood there for a few seconds and didn’t say anything. I was stunned. While I had faced this attitude before, I had never had anyone demand that I not preach on something that seemed so biblical. Finally I said, “I will not ignore an obvious application in the Bible.”
Needless to say, he was not happy.
This was an important moment for me. I had to decide whether I was employed by the church (having a “preaching job”) or whether I was called by God, with my obedience to him being at stake.
The call makes all the difference.
Can you recall a time when you had to decide if you were called or just employed?