Pastor Dave gives the announcement on Sunday morning. He has accepted the call to become the new head pastor at First Baptist. Everybody knows that First Baptist is a flagship church in the denomination. And it’s in a beautiful city with lovely sites and a delightful climate. Dave will have a professional team to work with, a larger salary, and a congregation five times larger than the one he currently pastors.
But none of that is supposed to matter. None of that is supposed to have played a role in Pastor Dave’s decision. The sole salient factor, the one he shared with the congregation, is that he was called to that church.
A cynic might wonder why God’s call seems to match so closely with familiar patterns of career advancement in the business world. In the business world the skilled leaders end up the CEOs. And in the ecclesial world, the skilled leaders end up as head pastors of flagship churches. Does the language of calling add something significant to the mix? Or does it merely serve to baptize a decision for career advancement that might otherwise appear to be borne by self-interest?
And what about the rest of the church? If Dave can sanctify his choices for career advancement with a nod to the divine call, what about the engineers, shift managers, real estate agents, baristas, construction workers and general laborers that fill the pew? Can they also appeal to the divine call to explain their decisions for career advancement?