Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not Just a Job

Being a pastor was never just a job. Far from it. I did what I did because I was called. That word is not about hearing voices or some vision of heaven. It is living at the center of what God has given us the gifts to do.

For thirty years it was almost entirely within the context of a local church and a larger denominational setting. It was exciting, challenging, always new, and never what I expected it to be. I was honored, blessed, and humbled day in and day out with the opportunity to walk with people in their struggles and pilgrimages. I was able to sit in sick rooms, at death's door, in times of deep tragedy. I was also able to sit at weddings and baptisms, confirmations and graduations. I was there in some way or another as myself and as a servant of the church that called me.

At the heart of the call is to trust God. As believers we listen to Jesus' call to live in a faithful way. None of us does that well, which is where grace enters the picture. We all have different ways of doing that. The call- and ALL Christians are called- will change, grow, evolve. My ministry has been outside the institution for 10 years now, working with people who, in many cases have been hurt by the church or were afraid of setting foot inside one. It is no less important than when I was in the parish.

When I was leaving the parish ministry I would speak of "leaving the ministry" since that is often how the church sees it. I never left the ministry. I finally heard God calling me to a "secular-based" ministry. (That takes another couple of pages of description.) There is no difference between the ministry within the church and outside. Ministry is ministry is ministry. We all as followers of Christ are called to do it.

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