Last week I officially entered into the candidacy for pastoral ministry. In the United Methodist Church, this is titled, Provisional Elder. The process will require more education, a great deal of writing, a number of interviews and continued discernment for where God is leading me. I have completed the first step by writing my statement of call and sharing it with the District Superintendent for his recommendation to the larger conference governing body. I want to share my statement because it has been a long road to get to this place of understanding my pastoral role in ministry
My discernment of God’s call to ministry has been unfolding for years. I have not been running from his call but feel like I have not been released from it either. Slowly God has been revealing my call into ministry through prayerful contemplation, scripture, and conversations with family and close friends. Also, the transition of leadership at FUMCSP has provided me the opportunity to re-evaluate God’s timing and direction into pastoral ministry. I believe my heart, mind and spirit are finally aligned to discover where God is leading me. This waiting process has given me time to accept God's timing, and trust the work of the Holy Spirit to transform and lead me in a new direction. I want to continue to gain a more succinct understanding of where God is leading me. No longer am I satisfied to stay in a place of discernment, but am willing to step forward in faith despite the uncertainty and doubt, trusting that God is preparing the hearts and minds of those that I will serve.
As a baptized baby of the Christian faith, I grew up with a vague understanding of the God of the Old Testament, the Son of the New Testament and the third person of the Trinity called the Holy Spirit. As a teen, I participated in confirmation and committed my life to Christ and the church. I have many reasons why I should have turned away from God. Under a cloud of domestic violence, my family tradition was focused on my father’s interpretation of the Bible. To me, much like my abusive father, God was a punisher, and a disciplinarian, who watched and waited for me to mess up. My adult life and marriages continued to reflect the familiar pattern of emotional and psychological abuse. I believe through this time, God was pursuing me with a Spirit of grace, which brought me an awareness of my need for forgiveness and my deep hunger for love. These past experiences have led me to want to focus on assisting women to embrace God’s loving grace, which in turn empowers them to feel God’s mercy and have assurance that they matter to him.
After spending most of my life fearing God and the consequences of my sins, I intentionally challenged myself in college and seminary to bring him down from the heavens in order to discover a more relatable God. The journey through the scriptures and the time spent developing new theological insights opened my world to the faithfulness and love of the Triune God. My understanding of the punishing and manipulating God of my father has been transformed into a God of grace and love. Through Christ, I am justified and cleansed to a new life. My brokenness is healed. With God’s grace, I am transformed to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Just as Christ championed the poor, widows, orphans and those on the fringes of society, all Christians are called to be disciples ministering to the hurting.
In scripture, God used the broken, insecure and the challenged to lead, preach, and heal the world. Like me, they questioned their call into ministry but through faith, they stepped forward in obedience to follow where God was leading. I need to take that step to follow God into ministry. What time and experience has taught me is that my voice is an opportunity to engage, empower and challenge people to embrace who they are. We all matter to God, regardless of what we have been told or how we feel. Simply put, God is love. The journey of self-discovery is leading me to live and breathe into the person that God has intended me to be.