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Tim Challies

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In the Lord's Providence

It must have been back in 10th or 11th grade, maybe even a little bit earlier, that my parents sensed a bit of purposelessness in my life. Where some kids hit their teens year and have an idea of what they’d like to do with their lives, I really had no idea at all. I wasn’t exactly a motivated student, which in turn meant that I was not too concerned with my grades. And that had my parents a mite concerned. So what they did was send me off to some kind of a vocational counselor. This guy asked me a whole lot of questions, had me fill out all kinds of questionnaires and quizzes, talked to me for a while, and had me do a long and intense I.Q. test. At the end of it all he said he’d send along a report in which he’d talk about my intelligence (or lack thereof) along with some direction as to where my gifts and talents might lead me.

A few weeks later a package showed up in the mail addressed to my parents. There were the results of my I.Q. test (I think I got a 7-and-a-half or something) and some suggestions as to the kinds of jobs I might want to shoot for. There were two jobs that were listed right at the top—computers and pastoral ministry. I thought that was kind of funny. I enjoyed computers on a recreational level but was terrible at math, so foresaw absolutely no future there. And while I was a church-goer, I was absolutely paranoid about any kind of public speaking, the kind of kid who would never raise his hand in class or do anything to attract notice, so knew that I could never be a pastor. I promptly forgot all about the counselor’s suggestions.

A few years later, after I got myself a history degree in college, I found myself holding a job as a Network Administrator within a division of a rather large company. Somehow, despite my ridiculously underdeveloped math skills, I had earned a whole lot of computer certifications and was responsible for maintaining an entire network of PCs and servers. Maybe that counselor hadn’t been quite so far off. Over the years I’ve remained in the computer field. While I was eventually laid off from that company, I soon became a freelancer, got into web design, and have made my living primarily in web work ever since. And looking back, I can see God’s providence in this as the web work allowed me the freedom to write—to write this blog and to write 3 books (so far).

Fast forward to 2010.

A few months ago the members of Grace Fellowship Church called me to be an elder within that church and ordained me to the ministry. And yesterday afternoon they asked me to come on staff at this, my home church, as a pastor responsible for discipleship, mentoring and family ministry. Starting this week, tomorrow actually, I will be spending 2 days out of every week dedicated to that ministry, seeking to increase discipleship within the church, to do and support mentorship and to emphasize family ministry. I’m thrilled with the challenge and humbled at the opportunity.

And here I am, all these years later, doing just what that counselor suggested I ought to do almost 20 years ago—2 days a week dedicated to ministry and 3 days a week dedicated to computers. The funny thing, or maybe it’s the wondrous thing, is that I didn’t really set out to be either one. In the Lord’s providence, it just kind of happened.