JohnOnce a upon a time, in a corporate sector job which now seems far, far away, my email tag line was, “Engineer working for a carpenter.” Since I entered ministry two years ago, I have not used it; I was not sure it was the right thing to have on my emails as a pastor.

Several years B.C. (that’s Before Clergy), when I was still a lay person worshipping at a United Methodist Church, I would remind my fellow congregants that each pastor appointed to our charge had been appointed there for a reason. All of us have strengths and weaknesses; only the Spirit and hindsight understand why a particular pastor’s gifts have been deemed needed by a particular church.

Then I went to licensing school and was given the advice, by several wise and experienced clergy, to not change anything at a church for the first year of an appointment. I took this advice to heart—but am now realizing that since I started at my first charge, I have spent the majority of my time trying to be who I thought the church needed me to be, and not being who I am. I have been holding back from using some of my spiritual gifts. 

One of John's churches.I am the son of a greaser; my dad worked on cars and liked to tinker with anything that had an engine or a motor. Dad drilled into my head the idea that every tool has a purpose and that you never use a tool for a purpose it’s not intended for. Carrying this concept into a life of faith, I have always believed that knowledge of a person’s spiritual gifts is the best way to know what their intended role is within the Body of Christ. I had a gut check moment this past week when I asked myself if I have been authentic in my ministry by using my gifts fully. By not being myself as I am gifted to be for the service of the church, have I been the best pastor I can be?

What are my gifts? How has the Spirit equipped me for ministry? While I have been relying heavily on my gift of public speaking (1 Corinthians 14:3), I have also been equipped with the gifts of leadership (1 Corinthians 12:28) and administration (Romans 12:7). Therefore, as a pastor who was formerly a corporate world manager and problem solver, who believes my gifts have been matched with my charge for a reason, I now realize that all my gifts need to be fully utilized where I am now. 

I am a believer, a planner, a problem solver, and a motivator. This Sunday, I will begin leading my churches on a journey of self-discovery and discernment I have titled “Momentum.” This effort will culminate at Pentecost with, hopefully, these churches having a new understanding of who they are and what God has in store for them. 

It is time to roll up my sleeves, be myself, clock in, and get back on the job. 

Rev. John R. Tomlin, PE (Professional Engineer)
Engineer working for a carpenter