“So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord.” – Jonah 3:3
My middle name is Paul. My namesake, Paul Schlener, is the missionary who led my father to the Lord in the 1950s. Paul and the Schlener family made a lot of sacrifices to follow God’s calling on their lives to take the gospel to people like my father. As aviation missionaries, they left the beautiful US West Coast for the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.
My father grew up and became a pastor, missionary, and church planter. Following in the footsteps of his spiritual father, Paul, my parents planted churches in Europe for many years of ministry before retiring.
I was not born in a church, but I could have been. Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights, I was at church. Special events were at church and so were my friends. My childhood revolved around the church.
I remember the little old ladies in my church telling me, “One day, you’re going to be a pastor, just like your dad!” I never responded, but deep in my heart, I could not wait to prove them so very wrong. I had no idea what career I would choose for my life, but I knew one thing—there was no way I would become a pastor! I told God, “I’ll do anything…except be a pastor.”
Looking back, I appreciate God’s great sense of humor and patience. In college, God called me to full-time ministry. The calling was as undeniable as it was unshakable. I wish I could say I immediately said, “yes, Lord!” but the Hound of Heaven is patient with His stubborn children.
For a season, I was more like the prophet Jonah. In the book of Jonah, God called the prophet to go to the great and wicked city of Nineveh and call the people to repent. Jonah 1:3 says, “But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”
Ninevah was about 500 miles northeast of Jonah’s location, yet he went southwest to Joppa to get on a ship and sail away. In other words, Jonah went in the opposite direction God instructed him. Yet no matter how much he resisted God’s call, Jonah could never escape God’s presence. Jonah 3:3 says, “So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord.”
Jonah eventually obeyed. Sure his boat was almost capsized by a terrible storm, he was thrown into the sea, swallowed by a fish, and puked onto a beach after three days. But eventually, he obeyed, and God did great things through Jonah. The people of Nineveh repented!
Still, at the storyʼs end, Jonah is angry that God spared the Ninevites. His poor attitude has caused many theologians to name him “The Reluctant Prophet.” Not exactly flattering.
I think about my middle name, “Paul,” and the meaning it carries for me. I remember when I finally said, “Yes, Lord.” I want to be faithful to the name given to me.
Did you know God is calling you by name? Regardless of your profession, whether you’re a student, a worker, or an owner, God has called you to go into the world to proclaim Godʼs love for all people and salvation through Jesus. Are you answering the call with a “YES LORD” or a “NOT ME?” Today is your challenge to go ALL IN.
At the end of your life, may the Lord declare you a “good and faithful servant” and not a “reluctant prophet.”
Questions for Thought
1. Describe God’s calling on your life. What specific things has God called you to do? What about your call is unique to you?
2. What might be a barrier in your life that is keeping you from truly going all in with God?
Day One Pastor and Minister to Single Adults
Kevin’s parents were church planters overseas, and from an early age, he saw the life-changing impact that the church has worldwide. He believes that the church can help people discover and use their unique gifts to impact eternity. Outside of work, Kevin loves hanging out with family and friends at the movies, games, or concerts. He is also a frustrated guitar player. He and his wife, Kim, have three great kids.