Saturday, September 03, 2011

Just Begin Again

As our ministry search winds down with no prospects forthcoming for the foreseeable future, I thought I'd take a little stock of our thirteen years in ministry, specifically the beginning of my ministry and my experiences therein. This will be the first in a series of posts about the Church, and my experiences in ministry.

I had been a Christian for a year and a half when I decided to go into the ministry. It was a reaction to a heartfelt sermon by someone who would eventually be one of my professors in College. Based around Romans 8:1 ("Therefore now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"), it culminated with an invitation (as all of the sermons for this conference did) with three choices: to become a Christian, to recommit your life and to give your life to full-time Christian service. I chose the third one, being at the height of my young faith at the time. I wanted to take it further, and even though I knew instinctively that I was deficient in some areas that I thought would be important in ministry, I felt the spirit move.

Maybe a socially awkward, moody introvert shouldn't go into the ministry. But my gifts (ease with public speaking, musicianship, compassion for the lost) seemed to calm my reservation. I've changed quite a bit since my commitment to ministry on that day, but I'm still moody. And I can be introverted with the best of the introverts. And, of course, the biggest difference is that I'm not in the ministry any more.

Can a 37 year old man be expected to make a promise he made at 18? Youthful idealism has been responsible for all kinds of good and bad decisions. It's a big deal to make your career choice, and ministry is different from any other career. It's all-encompassing. Your friends, your social life, your job, your home (if you live in a parsonage) and your connections all come from the same place. There aren't many jobs like that. Couple that with the fact that you are hired by people to help them get closer to God (an esoteric job description if there ever was one), and you have to be a certain kind of person to stick with it. And I don't mean a special, awesome person. I'm not saying that ministers are better than anyone else, because we're all flawed humans. But I think there is a specific kind of tenacity it takes to keep pursuing this kind of work, and somehow I had (have?) that.

I went into ministry wanting to make a difference. Most ministers won't admit it, but I will, that I also probably went into ministry to feel special or important. That kind of dissipated after a while, but it was true for a time. Good can come out of even bad or selfish motives, I suppose. But when those motives are stripped away by frustration and confusion, and all you have left is love for others, that's when you really make a difference.

We've had a spate of church interviews, and all except one have ended with rejection. It makes you wonder. God does things for a season, I know, but I feel like I want a clear response if that season is over for me. Me being an analytical person, I also want several reasons why. I'll never get them on this side of glory. If you have been searching for a job in your chosen field, so that you can use your God-given gifts, you know what I'm talking about. And, I really feel for you.

You can't maintain the initial excitement of starting a journey all through that journey. And, like a school project, a painting or recording an album, sometimes it's hard to know when it's done. I think ministry is winding down for me, and maybe a new adventure looms. I've got some ideas about what that adventure might be. But I'm not 18 any more. And the adventure I choose will be a lot different, and for better or worse, less idealistic and more practical. Our Nashville move has kind of purged any last drop of that career idealism out of me. Maybe that's alright. I don't know. But I do have the drive to do it, to do something. And that literally is better than nothing.

Check out "Just Begin Again" by Spinal Tap in the video below. It starts at the two minute mark.


4 comments:

summar ann said...

this made me cry a little (shocking, i know) but not just tears of sadness. tears of joy too. joy that we have each other & noodle. joy that we are on the the same page for our future. joy about starting a new adventure. maybe someday we will get the opportunity to to be in full time ministry again. maybe not. either way is fine. we wont just be ok, we'll be great! :-}

Kathy Meador Wells said...

Summer, you are so wise beyond your years. You and Lloyd are blessed to have each other, and to be on the same page with your life. Hang in there I know God has a plan for you and your family.

WAKE UP said...

Love ya Lloyd and Summer,...I was chicken when early on I wanted to "be a minister", it was an A G church that in order to become a "minister" you had to sign the line that said you agreed with their doctrinal statement...and I didn't at least not the part that said we would be raptured and taken secretly while the rest of the world burns, and countless other very committed believers before us suffered alot for their becoming followers of the way, yet we.....are exempt of all that... anyway I couldn't do it....and I has misgivings with the whole if ya want to be a minister you have to quit your job and go to bible
college. I had a couple of friends who did it and so as I struggled with it they came back broken and disillusioned from the whole process ...and during that time I struggled with the whole clergy laity thing and where it all came from...and during that time started to see the whole I'm in this for the money problem with the televangelists ect... and then I got into a home church and the leader of it was really!!! against all organized religious denominations for they are not the true church and much of what he said is true...yet I didn't think we should hate it because there are believers in it..who truly are followers of Christ and what are they to do if they don;t know of anything better...( if indeed we were better, which we weren't)sorry this is way too long the thing is those people who are rejecting you ...are not even the church, I think if I could find a place that resembled the church I might quit my job and go there, one that lets us minister one to another, that honors all of us as ministers..for the leaders are supposed to be equipping us all for the work of the ministry...we are all to be in the world but not of it winning those we have a circle of influence upon..to Christ and to want to be in his house...its to be like a gang, or a clan ... the house of Jacob....dwell in the ...house of the Lord forever....am I still going on ...sorry just want to say YOU ARE A MINISTER, A minister ministers to others, influences them towards the Kingdom of Christ,and you have certainly done that and are still doing that, we need to get out of that building anyway...I often feel when I say something I get too deep and then feel misunderstood or did I say too much...I'd love to be a worship leader, but I'm not going to lead a choir nor could I . And I am not going to entertain people on Sunday morning and they don't want to really sit and get into worship for any decent amount of time that it takes to get into it and touch him and be ministered to by him...if that could be changed perhaps...but the traditions of men are not easily torn down...I just think ..on this I'll end when I was waiting on a wife..it took along time for God to find me one that fit me..and who really loved Him..same with you... be picky insist on his best and wait for him to do it and when you say with job I'll follow you even if you don't give me what I seek....then it comes...love you guys and you can delete this if ya want thats ok cause its way too long sorry bro..Randy

Lloydie said...

That's great, Randy. I like what you've said here. I know that we're all ministers, and part of my frustration with the church has been that too few people understand that. Trying to find a job where I can use my gifts (whether it's a church job or not), has been difficult this last year. And it doesn't help that the almost 200 churches that I've contacted for jobs over the last eight months have rejected me (except for one). I appreciate your encouraging AND honest words, which is a rarity and one thing that I miss about Kewanee!