When I began my certification studies to become a Christian Educator in The United Methodist Church, the first thing I was challenged to do was contemplate my “calling”, to think about what it was to which I felt God inviting me. From there I had to articulate a personal “theology of ministry”. It was a good exercise and helped me to clarify what I wanted to accomplish through that course of study.
Now that I am involved in the candidacy process to become an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church, with a specialty in the area of counseling, I have the same challenge again. Not in a formal, stuctured, assigned way as before (at least not yet), but through the testing and stretching that is occurring. I am being asked to step up to new tasks and opportunities, all of which will be within the scope of ministry that a deacon would do. Specifically, I have been invited to assist in Sunday worship in our traditional chapel service. Participation in services – through prayer, reading, etc. – is not exactly new. I have performed such tasks occasionally in the past as a lay person. But now, the idea of being regularly engaged in such a role, to even become part of the rotation for preaching – when necessary- suddenly makes this whole process of candidacy very real. It’s not just a hypothetical, academic process…..but it is now part and parcel of my ministry, too. One often is challenged to step up to the tasks of a role long before the role has become official or even fully understood. That is how I feel. I am being given the privilege of experiencing the function of the role without yet having earned the credentials to actually be entitled to it. It is exciting. It is humbling.
I thank God for the opportunity to be molded through experience. I thank Lynn Haven UMC for its love, acceptance, and support as I begin this new aspect of ministry there.