Called to This

November 1st, 2010
This article is featured in the Calling & Career (Nov/Dec/Jan 2010-11) issue of Circuit Rider

An older clergy friend of mine recently attended an event where she got to mingle with quite a few young seminarians. “They’re so eager to get out into the local church,” she told me. “They don’t know what they’re in for!”

Perhaps you recall that idealistic time in your own life when you felt God’s call to ministry at the depth of your being, when preaching and pastoral care classes made you yearn for the day when you would confidently lead a congregation full of receptive and responsive disciples. Then you experienced your first heated board meeting. You spent more time settling debates about the new pew cushions than planning next summer’s mission trip. You got frustrated with conference politics. And you started to wonder, “Was I really called to this?”

There comes a time in most any important venture—be it marriage, schooling, or a career—when the rose-colored glasses come off and we realize we got more than we bargained for. In ministry, those feelings of disillusionment and frustration can be complicated even further by the disconnect between our heavenly calling and our human career. We answer the call of God, but fi nd that people are even harder to please. We teach others about Christian love and community, but feel lonely and isolated ourselves. Our desire to serve selfl essly can clash with our desire for success, stability, and reward. Our understanding of God’s vision may differ sharply from our bishop’s. (And our bishop’s plans may differ from our spouse’s!)

This issue of Circuit Rider explores those complex intersections between the spiritual call to serve and the practical dilemmas of the ministerial career. We’ll tackle difficult questions like:

Is there anything wrong with being ambitious in ministry?

Would eliminating itineracy or guaranteed appointment help churches—or pastors—to thrive?

Does the ordination system really prepare candidates for ministry?

How can I have a stable, happy family life while serving a church?

The ministerial vocation is filled with unique challenges but also brings unique rewards. We pray that this issue helps affirm your call and empowers you to live it out in your career.

About the Author

Jessica Miller Kelley

Jessica Miller Kelley is an editor and pastor's wife living in Nashville, Tennessee. A denominational mutt her work read more…
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