A couple years ago, I got one of those out-of-the blue calls that sounded legit, but also made me very suspicious. It was from a military recruiter, the Army Reserves to be precise.
At the time I was 39 years old. Not quite the age anymore to be considered for military service. He explained that he was recruiting for the military chaplaincy, and at 39 I had a couple more years before I would be too old to start a career in the military. He told me I didn’t need to worry…I wouldn’t have to go through basic training!
I would, however, have to go through a chaplaincy training program, but the Army Reserves realizes that its chaplains are usually already in full-time ministry, so they try to fit the training around a pastor’s schedule.
As a chaplain in the reserves, after my training was complete, my responsibilities would be just like any other Reservist, spending one weekend per month on base, and two weeks each summer. Of course, if my unit got called up to active duty, I would go with them. The recruiter assured me that many of their chaplains are full-time pastors, and their churches work around their Reserves schedule.
Additionally, and this piqued my interest, I would be qualified for a military pension if I served 20 years, and because I already had my master’s degree, I would start my military career as an officer!
I couldn’t believe it. I had not sought this out. I had not had a conversation with the chaplains in my denomination. It came completely as a surprise. How did he find out about me?
Maybe he just looked on my denomination’s website? I don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter how he found out. What mattered was that this was a serious offer, and I needed to evaluate it.
I have to admit that there was an inkling of interest deep within me. I liked the idea of a military pension. I liked the idea of being an officer is the US Army. And I’ve heard from my military chaplain colleagues how many wonderful ministry opportunities there are for chaplains. I like all of that, and it excited me.
So Michelle and I needed to talk about it. We needed to pray about it. If I became a military chaplain, it could deeply impact my family. Would my wife and kids be okay with having me gone so much? And what if my unit got called up, and I went to serve in a war zone?
I also needed to talk with my church, or at least the group of leaders in my church that could give me honest feedback about this decision. It was an opportunity that could also deeply impact our church. My church already graciously and wisely allows me one Sunday off preaching every month. It doesn’t always happen, but I’m very thankful for it. This chaplaincy opportunity would go well beyond the once/month off though. Would the church be okay with me being gone so much? And what would happen to this full-time ministry that I committed to before the Lord and before the church if my unit did get called up and I would be gone for months?
Simply put, for an opportunity like this, I would have to count the cost. And I would have to get others to join the evaluation process with me. It was an amazing opportunity. Very enticing. But it came with a cost.
This coming Sunday at Faith Church we will study Luke 14:25-35, a passage about counting the cost. Check it out before worship on Sunday. Like that recruiter, God is offering you an amazing opportunity, as we’ll see in this teaching by Jesus, but we need to count the cost.
So we invite you to join us to learn more.