I was 20 years old and newly married, I moved to St. Louis, Missouri. I soon became known in the church there, as that was my wife’s hometown. The church had a new pastor who was always alert to talents and spiritual gifts within the congregation. In the congregation were many very talented and qualified persons and many persons with graduate and post-graduate degrees. I was willing to assist and serve wherever a need existed. When I was asked to assist with different programs, I did so gladly. I had no position; I just helped others. Then I was asked if I would serve as an usher. I was honored and quickly said yes to my first official church office.
Soon the pastor decided he wanted me to serve as a church elder, helping him better to serve the church. Others said, “He is young; make him a youth leader too.” Soon I was first elder, youth leader, personal ministries leader, Sabbath school superintendent, school board chairman, church board chairman, interim pastor with conference credentials, all out of my desire to help others.
Professionally, during those early years, I was helping people as a social worker and then as a senior social worker, social work supervisor, and director of the department of social services. Eventually I was confirmed by the United States Senate as chief of the Children’s Bureau for the U.S. Government and commissioner for the administration of children and families. This was the top social work position in the country—or the world, for that matter—with a multibillion-dollar budget.
That gift, or talent, of helps was not as insignificant as many had thought back in my church in St. Louis a few years earlier. When Jesus said if you are faithful over a few things, He will make you ruler over many, He was not exaggerating. I was later invited to serve the president at the U.S. Department of State with international responsibilities of helping: conferring with Congress and the president, giving advice on domestic and international issues, traveling around the world, helping and helping and helping.
The day came when God said that all these experiences were to prepare me for service in His church. He wanted me to help as an evangelist, as president at Christian Record Services, and then at the North American Division of the General Conference. And on April 15, 1995, it all came together. His master plan led to my ordination to the gospel ministry, with the gift of helps.
“Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:29-31).
By Clarence E. Hodges
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