Soon after it was announced I was resigning as Associate Pastor of Christ Church of Oak Brook to become the Executive Director of Sky Ranch, located in east Texas, people learned that Sky Ranch, a summer camp with an 18 year history, presently had land, but no facility, no staff, and very little equipment – not even any horses. I had the responsibility of designing and putting into operation a radically different camp/conference ministry – in five months.
It was in this context that Bernie Cozette asked if I would consider becoming the CEO of his corporation. Bernie and I knew each other well. He was an elder in the church and had been observing my work. I knew that his business was solid and growing. He assured me that if I choose to become the CEO, I could expect to become a millionaire.
Because I was absolutely certain Sally Jo and I knew God had asked me to assume the leadership responsibility of the Sky Ranch ministry, I was able to tell him what we both knew: It was time to move to Texas.
About 20 years later I returned to Christ Church on a Sunday morning. I was warmly welcomed by many friends from years past. I was in the foyer when up walked an elderly man. “Do you remember me? Yes, you are Bernie Cozette. Chuck, do you remember the offer I made to you after you resigned from your position here at the church? Bernie, yes, I remember the offer – but have often wondered if it was a figment of my imagination. Chuck, my request that you become CEO of my corporation was very real. If you would have accepted, today you would be a multi-millionaire. Are you sorry that you didn’t?”
I smiled as I responded: “Bernie, God has worked me hard and used every gift and ability which I have. We have never been hungry and we have always had a roof over our heads. Ours has been a rich life, and no, I am not sorry that I turned down your offer.” As we looked at each other, I could see the tears flowing down Bernie’s cheeks. “Chuck, I am thankful you feel that way. I just had to ask.”
I have often thought back to the offer. I am not sorry for the decision we made, but I have often wondered, had I become the CEO of the corporation, would the Lord have helped me be successful as a corporate CEO, even as He has enabled me to effective in ministry. I doubt it. I do know that Sally Jo and I would not have had the same opportunity to work together that we have enjoyed in Christian camping.
This opportunity to turn from what we know God would have us do for what would likely have been a more comfortable and secure future was very similar to when I had resigned as Pastor of the little Bakerville United Methodist Church. At that time John Kinsey asked “Chuck, how much money would it take to get you to stay.” When I told him that, regardless of the money involved, we would be moving to Murfreesboro, TN, John responded with “I thought that is what you would say, but I had to ask.”
When we serve in vocational Christian ministry we have the opportunity of seeing and of experiencing the hand of the Lord upon us, upon what we do. Those not in vocational Christian ministry also have the opportunity of seeing and of experiencing the hand of the Lord upon them, upon what they do.
God has chosen those in vocational Christian ministry for the work we do, enriching the spiritual lives of His children. God has chosen others to support those in vocational Christian ministry financially, and in other ways. Those in vocational Christian ministry pay a price for what we do – and the believers who work in other vocations “pay a price” for supporting those in vocational Christian ministry. Together we are an incredible team – to serve for the Glory of God. Let us all see this as our privilege. When either does not carry out his responsibility, a ministry or person can be crippled, even destroyed.
Come back to Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Each of us has the opportunity and responsibility to live In Partnership With God.