Todd Flower, foodservice director at the Bloomfield (N.Y.) Central School District didn’t grow up wanting to be a pastor. But he says a divine intervention in 1994 led him to pursue a career in biblical teaching.
Todd Flower, Bloomfield (N.Y.)
Central School District “You don’t grow up saying, ‘I’m going to be a pastor.’ Of all the pastors I know, I don’t know one who said, ‘some day when I grow up I’m going to be a pastor.’ It is more of a calling and something else out of our control that leads us in that direction. That happened to me in the early nineties. I was radically converted for Christ in 1994. I had [this realization] of coming to an end of yourself in this world and this path isn’t working so there has to be another one.
I am an assisting pastor at the Dansville Foursquare Church. I have an international license in the Foursquare Church. That means I am licensed by the Foursquare Church to preach the gospel anywhere in the world. Licensing was a process, starting with a staff ministerial license, then district license and then the international one. The process involved certain criteria and pastoral references, with the recommendation of those over you and practical proven ministry experience. I preach locally. We have a pretty good-sized mission field right here in the country. My wife has traveled on a few mission trips internationally, but I’ve worked here in our country. That license allows me to marry people in New York. For people who come along and want you to marry them, the obvious thing is you didn’t go to the justice of the peace, so you’re looking for something more. It opens the door to speak to that [spiritual] part of their life. My wife and I also do funerals.
Mostly my wife and I are pastors to the pastorless. We minister outside the walls of the church. That seems to be the way we have been used in people’s lives. It’s relational work. I don’t want to say it’s by the seat of our pants, but by the Holy Spirit leading us from one person to the next we seem to run into people who have the need. We’re intentional about paying attention to people who need help, but people have a funny way of showing up on our doorstep or at our office.
I’ve worked in foodservice for most of my life. Foodservice seemed to be the thing I always fell back on and now it’s a major part of my life. My passion really is Christ and my other passion is foodservice. People use the title of bivocational pastor a lot, meaning a pastor who works. I go back and it’s actually biblical of not being a burden to the church. The Bible used to talk about [the apostle] Paul and his tent-making business. He worked to support himself so as not to be a burden to the local church.
One of my favorite Bible verses talks about how I operate. It says something like, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the power may be seen to be from God and not from man.” It’s in 2 Corinthians. I like it because it means I’m not in control and in charge. There is something greater out there. That’s where people find peace, in realizing that this is out of our hands and that there is somebody out there who cares about them.
There is a lot of counseling or talking involved [in my work]. It’s really applying the word of God. It’s guiding more than counseling. We do a lot with meeting people’s needs. There are a lot of broken and hurting people out there. Sometimes a meal or educating them in the realm of finances or overcoming addiction is what we do. It does sound kind of like a counselor. It’s counseling with the word of God.”