Guest Post by Pastor Nick Eiden
We serve an amazing God. He knows everything there is to know, including how to prepare us for our future. As the Lord told Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) Each of our lives is a compilation of experiences that serves as preparation for what is yet to come. God has been training me for 30 years to get me ready to serve as a pastor. One of the biggest ways that God prepared me for ministry was my law enforcement career. Surprised? Me too! But it’s true; I frequently find elements of my life as a cop that prepared me for the pastorate. Here are five ways that being a police officer has prepared me for ministry.
1. Getting to know people from all walks of life.
The police serve people of all races, socioeconomic statuses, lifestyles, personalities and situations.
So does the church. Who doesn’t need Jesus?
2. Decision Making and Critical Thinking
Police officers routinely enter situations with very limited information. Whether responding to a vehicle collision, a medical emergency, or an armed robbery, officers have to make potentially life-altering decisions on a regular basis. The officers then are held accountable for these split-second decisions.
I have been surprised by how many decisions I have to make as a ministry leader. While most of these decisions are not in response to a life-threatening emergency, I will still be held accountable for them, both by the church, and by God. I have a responsibility to ensure that everything about my ministry honors God, is a good use of tithe money, and facilitates growth in people’s relationships with Jesus.
3. Knowing that I can’t please everyone
Nobody should become a law enforcement officer to become popular. Cops are easy targets for comedy and complaints, especially in today’s society. Officers are bound to make decisions based on the law, department policy and orders from supervisors, which rarely please everybody involved.
Similarly, in ministry, it is impossible to plan a camp, conference or even a service in a way that pleases everyone in everyway. There are many factors to consider, and I want you all to rest assured that I pray through these decisions. I am doing my dead-level best to seek God’s direction and approval. I want to make the congregation and the public happy, but obedience to God will always trump pleasing people.
4. Working weird hours
There isn’t a moment that passes that there aren’t law enforcement officers on duty. The schedule of a police officer includes nights, weekends, and holidays. Thankfully, while the majority of us rest, officers are watching over us.
Pastors don’t keep banker’s hours. Thankfully, we don’t keep cop’s hours either. Working on Sunday is cake compared to working 6:30 PM to 6:30 AM. I am still learning how to manage my time between church responsibilities and family, but I certainly have a head start coming out of law enforcement.
5. Feeling Responsible for people
Police officers are sworn to protect and serve the public. I always felt responsible for people and their safety. I took it personally when a crime was committed on my watch, which served as extra motivation for solving the case and catching the perpetrator.
As youth pastor, I feel an even greater sense of responsibility. I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach students about Jesus Christ. There isn’t anything more important for these kids to learn, and I want more than anything for them to grow in their faith and become His disciples.
God has clearly used my law enforcement career as preparation for what He planned for my life. What can you identify in your life that has turned out to be preparation? How has God used your past to train you for your current ministry? What is happening in your life right now that God could use to reach others? It is my sincere hope that you trust God to lead you, and that you can trust that He will prepare you for whatever He asks you to do.
-Pastor Nick Eiden