“You should become a pastor.” I was in primary school when an older church member first said that to me. As a teenager I had numerous people tell me that I would become a pastor. Often it came in the context that my dad and grandfather were pastors. Sometimes it was irritating because I wanted to establish my own identity. Actually I have uncles, great uncles, second cousins . . . who were all pastors. Being a “Pastor Townend” is not very original. However, people in the Church reflected God’s actual calling in my life. As I reflect on this now, it was a beautiful thing and I want all of the children in our churches and schools to have such affirmation.
Seventh-day Adventist schools are growing faster than we can staff them with Adventist teachers—that is true in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, the Solomons and the rest of the Pacific. Avondale College, Pacific Adventist University, Sonoma College and Fulton College all promote the experience of Adventist tertiary education and the curriculum for teaching and other ministries. The unions advertise the needs for employment but we cannot keep up with the demand. It’s a good problem to have. Nearly 60 per cent of the 70,000-plus students in Adventist schools in the SPD are from the general community—this is a huge opportunity to change the lives of future generations for Jesus. The teachers are doing an excellent job—most Adventist schools celebrate baptisms of students and families associated with the school every year. However, we need more Adventist teachers who can teach, model and disciple others into a walk with Jesus.
All of us have a role to play. The Church affirms and recognises the giftedness of individuals. So when we see God-given talent in others, even children, we ought to tell them. “You should be a teacher.” “God could be asking you to be a nurse.” That’s how God’s movement continues.