In my work I get to spend a lot of time with people who are thinking about the call to full-time ministry. They want to preach, direct a Christian education program or lead a para-church ministry. From a distance the “call” can seem adventurous and life-giving. But that is not always the case; Brain McLaren sums up a reality that many of us in “the ministry” face his book A New Kind of Christian:
I found the pastorate a pretty hard place to be a growing, thinking, honest Christian. Too many people want you to spout the party line, never question, never think. In the end, it was a matter of integrity and compassion. If I had been honest in the pulpit about what was going on in my mind and heart – my questioning, my reevaluating – I would either have split the church or been fired.
This inner conflict has been part of my reality for the past 20 years. My Christian faith, my call to ministry is both the most important part of who I am and what I do as well as the most frustrating part of who I am and how I live. I love what I do but I am always looking for a reason to quit.
These tensions have influenced my understanding of God’s call on my life. There are days when I feel called and there are days when I am quite sure that God is just messing with me. In a few days I am going to take a step that I have actively avoided for at least two decades - ordination.
Why am I doing this now? My struggle with God is still an everyday reality – just this morning I came up with a new reason to quit! Ultimately my faith is just that – a step of faith. When I look back at the last 20 years it hasn’t been perfect, but God has been present – encouraging, patiently allowing me to rant and question and providing church families that love on me and my family without condition.
This Sunday, I will take a step of faith; believing that God has called me into the ministry, not because I have my act together, but because God has called me in spite of my strengths and weaknesses. If you are in Denver this Sunday, September 11 you are invited to His Love Fellowship Church at 3 PM to celebrate the next step in my journey.