Choosing Between Law and Love (Mar – Apr 2009)

By Matt Dabbs

Am I called? Or am I fleeing? Is it holy discontent? Or am I running from Nineveh?

I’ve been a trial lawyer since 1992 after a one year judicial clerkship after law school. Before that I obtained a Missions degree from Abilene Christian University then ministered at a church in Juneau Alaska. In Alaska I had begun to fear that I didn’t fit in Churches of Christ, so that’s why I went to law school. However, throughout law school I continued to preach and have continuously ever since. Just after moving my family to Hurricane, WV for a job as a state-wide prosecuting attorney, the minister there moved to Texas, so I was asked to fill the pulpit. This was originally meant as temporary measure while a preacher was found, but I preached there for six years while still practicing law. I felt ready to be back in full time ministry, so I left the law and moved to Russellville, Kentucky where after a short full-time stint, the tractor beam of the law pulled me in once again. But I am dissatisfied because my deepest desire is to minister full-time. Is this a holy discontent?

I must face the possibility that God does not want me in full time ministry and that the law profession is my Nineveh. As a lawyer, I have had decent success and recognition, even receiving a “Distinguished Alumni” Citation from ACU for my work with abused kids. I have spoken nationally at law enforcement training events. I have had success in trials. Nevertheless, it all leaves me empty. I want to preach to a missional church that recognizes Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, F.F. Bruce, Rob Bell, Lee Camp, and St. Benedict. I want to be at a place where Democrats are as welcome as Republicans, but where Kingdom is the discussion and the passion, not patriotism and moralism.

I know that I will be a Christian wherever I am, so maybe God wants me in the legal profession. Am I like Jonah fleeing from the ministry God has called me to? Or is God holding me back for the right group of disciples at the right time? Am I facing obstacles to be overcome or am I banging my head against a divine roadblock? Your response will help me decide.

Having said that, I must admit that I need quick responses because there are new law positions that I can’t stiff-arm forever. Could you free me to preach, teach, and write while I free you to serve, love and shepherd?

Grace & Peace,
Stephen Kenney

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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