What I’m Reading Today: 2 Corinthians 11 (Click on the Scripture to read The Message paraphrase of the passage)
When I talk with folks about my call to ordained ministry, I can easily make it sound as if I’ve lived a charmed life. I suppose that’s because I draw a great deal of satisfaction from doing what I’ve been called to do. I’m also blessed in that I truly LOVE what I’m doing. As a result, I tend to emphasize the positive when I talk about my call.
If I were to strip away my positive outlook, I suppose I could easily describe my call in a very different way – in a way that parallels the way Paul talked about his call in today’s reading.
Here’s just a short list of what’s happened to me since I answered the call to ministry 11 years ago.
• I’ve walked away from a budding career in politics.
• I left all of my family and friends behind to move 1,100 miles away to attend seminary.
• While in seminary, I was tossed out of the denomination in which I was raised because of my sexual orientation.
• Once I found my way to a truly loving and inclusive denomination, I then answered the call to serve a church that was on the verge of closing.
• After I settled into a life I loved in a community in which I was comfortable, I was then called to uproot my life and move 1,000 miles away
• In the process of moving I accrued a tremendous amount of debt in order to move to a place I’d never been to in order to serve a church in major transition.
It’s not exactly the kind of story you’d put on a brochure if you wanted to draw other folks into ministry.
So why would anyone in their right mind put him or herself through such circumstances?
The answer is pretty simple: because those of us with a call to ministry can’t do anything else.
Now when I say that, I don’t mean that we pastors are a sorry lot who lack practical skills that would allow us to get any other job. No, I mean that we are a group of folks whose love for God and God’s people is so great that we literally have no choice but to serve. As one of my mentors on my path to ministry once said, “If you feel like there’s anything else you could possibly do, by all means do it. The only way you’ll survive in ministry is if you know you have no other choice!”
In many ways, I think that advice extends not just to ministers but to people of faith as well. Over the years I’ve noticed that a person’s faith is most vibrant when they reach the point when they realize their connection with God isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. A person’s faith is most alive when they know that their relationship with God gives them something that nothing else in the world can give them – not money, not popularity, not drugs, not sex, not status, not anything! Once a person realizes this, their faith begins to take over their life (in a good way ).
My question for you to consider today is this: how do you view your faith? Is it something you hold on to simply out of habit or routine; or is it something you do out of necessity?
Til next time…