This is a blog inspired by UMC Young Clergy. The organization is seeking blog posts from those who are young adults and in the United Methodist ordination process. This is my submission.
My calling to ordained ministry has been a long process of attempting to understand what God desired for me and my personal battle with knowing what this call meant.
Before coming to understand that I had a call to ordained ministry, I struggled with my career and an overwhelming sense that there was something greater or something that I was called to do other than what I was doing. I was a writer and while I enjoyed writing for newspaper, I felt a huge void in my life. I attempted to fill that void by moving from sports writing to news writing, but the void still existed. I struggled with where this void came from and felt that maybe politics, which has always been an interest of mine, was a way to fill the void.
It didn’t work. I still felt this void in my vocational life. Politics wasn’t the answer, but I eventually figured it out through prayer and returning to a closer life with God. I had been like Jonah running from what God had called me to. I returned to God and felt his calling for my life, which came, too, after a lot of healing from wounds from my past.
I came to understand this call through the help of friends and mentors, people who walked beside me and help me to heal from my hurts and to understand what this void in my life might exactly be. They helped me to see that God had been calling me for years, I was just refusing to listen.
But, understanding this has not been easy. It has been a very difficult and the process of ordination is built with its own roadblocks and struggles. I started in the North Carolina Conference, but now seeking ordination in Virginia after hearing God calling myself and my wife to be closer to our families in Virginia and West Virginia.
The frustrations have been many, but the joys have been many as well.
The frustrations have been being so far from my conference headquarters and district. It makes it hard to keep up with communication and conference developments. As much as I love Asbury Theological Seminary, looking back I wish I had gone to seminary closer to my conference. That would have made communication and networking with key conference officials easier. Another frustration has been how long the process takes. This is not a short process and you must be willing to commit yourself to the process, both the joys and the frustrations.
But the joys, as I said, are many. I have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God because of being obedient to his desire for my life. That has been the most important thing for me. Also, too, hearing people support me, even when I want to give up and walk beside me has been a great feeling.
My family has been an interesting component to this. My wife, who did not know me when I first discerned a call, has been my biggest support. She has confirmed my calling and has encouraged me when I wanted to give up. My extended family has supported me as well, however I believe they have been frustrated with not fully understanding the long process that is ordination. I don’t think this is uncommon. My family is not here with my at seminary and I’m the only one in the family that has desired to become a pastor, so this is new territory for us all.
For anyone thinking about the process, I would suggest understanding what it means to be committed to this process and who you are as a Christian and a member of the Kingdom of God. Take the time to think this through and make it a point to attend conferences, such as Exploration, that will help in providing more education about the call to ordained ministry. Also, find a seminary that will nurture you and help you grow in your understanding of what it means to be in Christian service. Be open to the process and let it be what it will be and find friends who will walk along side you in the process.