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‘God qualifies the called’

Ordinand at ordination service

To continue our series of articles highlighting call stories from our newest ordinands, Rev. Eric Falker explains how he has learned to trust God’s provision for his life and ministry.

Houghton: Grace UMC and Painesdale UMC

If someone had asked me in high school, “Would you like to be a pastor someday?” I probably would have laughed in their face. Sure, I was a Christian, active in my local church youth group, and a camper at Lake Louise, but the thought of pursuing a full-time career in ministry had never occurred to me. I finished two engineering degrees before God really got a hold of me.

Supporters at ordination reception
At the reception following the ordination service, friends and mentors (left to right) Rev. David Husseltine and Revs. Lisa and Ron Cook join Katja and Rev. Eric Falker for a time of celebration. ~ photo courtesy Eric Falker

The first time the Spirit came around knocking was right after my wedding, when the officiating pastor, Rev. Lisa Cook, recommended me for a youth ministry position. My wife and I thought, “What do we have to lose? If this is God’s plan for us, we’ll give it a try.”

Ten years later, my foot firmly in the door, I felt the call to explore pastoral ministry and become a certified candidate. Around the same time, an internship opened up for me at another church. Again, we thought, “If this is God’s will, he’ll make a way.” By the end of that internship, I was certified and appointed to my first church as a local pastor.

There were times when it wasn’t so easy. I had to survive a brief time of unemployment and questioning my call. I have moved my family five times, and my children have attended five different schools. Still, God has provided. For a few years, we rented our house to cover some of the cost of living. I finished licensing school and applied to seminary. Scholarships appeared.

During the introduction at my first appointment, I realized their 900-square-foot parsonage wouldn’t work for my five-member family. As I was walking back to the church next door, my district superintendent at the time, Rev. Anita Hahn, leaned in and said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll handle it.” I was thinking I’d have to refuse the appointment, but she was thinking, “Let’s just find them a new house!” God provided.

Growing through my work in seminary and my first appointment, I began to realize the seriousness and depth of commitment required for ordination. I was being called into a lifetime of service as an elder. That seemed like a huge jump from where I had started as the “youth and music guy.”

Eric Falker baptizing child
Rev. Eric Falker baptizing a child at an outdoor service in Houghton, MI, in 2021. ~ photo courtesy Eric Falker

But along the way, the Holy Spirit confirmed a few things. I could still be that nerdy engineering type, and God would use it in my ministry. I could still be a musician, and God would use that, too. I could love working with children and teenagers, and God would definitely use that. I realized those years of growing up in church and working on staff had taught me what I wanted to see out of a pastor — and now that pastor was me.

In 2003, Mike Yaconelli, co-founder of Youth Specialties, spoke at the church where I first began as a youth minister, only two weeks before he tragically died in a car accident. He was a visionary prophet, if somewhat unorthodox. I will never forget how he said, “God doesn’t call the qualified; God qualifies the called.”

I feel like that statement has rung true in my life. I am so glad to be serving in The United Methodist Church right now, even with all its messiness, because I believe none of us can truly take credit for anything we’ve done. It is only by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit that real ministry happens and hearts are changed. My heart certainly has.

Last Updated on October 31, 2023

The Michigan Conference