I have been thinking about the number of youth in our church who have expressed a desire to explore vocations in ministry. I have also reflected on how many are already in seminary or serving as licensed local pastors who have been “raised up” in our church. This linked article and my thoughts about the ways in which our church leaders are called and formed may be of interest if you have an interest in these matters. Cathy
There’s More Than One Way…..CBByrd 11-25-14
This link to an article, reprinted recently in the Duke Theological Seminary’s leadership newsletter, offered an encouraging perspective on how individuals are being formed for ministry not only through traditional seminary residential programs, but also through non-traditional “hands-on” work in the “hinterlands”.
As I thought about this I was reminded of a lesson I observed in Scripture more than fifteen years ago. We read in Exodus 3 about Moses’ call to ministry occurring after 40 years of tending sheep in the wilderness of Midian. He had been educated and groomed for leadership and lived a life of privilege. Then, when his compassionate heart for those whom he recognized as his people caused him to violate law and conscience, he ran for his life. Eventually, when the circumstances were right, God was able to use him.
Much later in Exodus 17 we read about Moses standing watch over the battlefield of Rephidim as Joshua engaged the Amalekites. As long as Moses kept his arms raised high, the Hebrews prevailed. When he grew weary and his arms dropped down, the tide of battle turned in favor of the Amalekites. So, assistance came…..in the form to two helpers who stood on either side and supported Moses’ arms.
Aaron, Moses’ natural biological brother, of the tribe of Levi, was a trained and equipped priest. For the Hebrews, the priest’s knowledge and wisdom led them to look to such a person for many matters of importance in the community, spiritual, relational, legal, even medical. He was the “white collar professional” of his day….the one set apart and trained for leadership.
Then there was Hur. Hur was from the tribe of Judah. We don’t know a lot about Hur. Rabbinic tradition holds that Hur was the son of Miriam and Caleb, making him a nephew of Moses. We do know from Scripture that Hur was the grandfather of Bezalel, whom God gifted with skill and talent in craftsmanship and anointed with his Spirit for the task of constructing the Tabernacle. Perhaps the men of Bezalel’s family, including Hur, were skilled in such crafts as sewing, construction, metal work, and more. Hur is referred to in Exodus 24:14, along with Aaron, as a leader to whom the Hebrews are directed by Moses to go to for guidance while Moses is up on Mount Sinai where he received the tablets with the 10 Commandments from God. Hur disappears from the Exodus narrative after that. In later genealogies, one of his sons is noted as the founding father of Bethlehem. When the Golden Calf is constructed by the impatient people in Moses’ absence, only Aaron is cited as being complicit. Speculation by Jewish Talmudic historians has been that Hur may have been killed in an attempt to prevent the people from such a vile act against God. Perhaps Aaron, intimidated by the murder of Hur, complied with the popular demand to create the idol out of fear for his own life. This might also point to Hur having had some influence or authority over management and use of resources. I have tended to think of Hur in terms of pragmatic problem solving, of being skilled in craftsmanship like his grandson, and having the respect of the priests and the people so as to be credible in leadership alongside the priests.
Years ago I was involved in a situation in which a young woman, angry at an unfaithful husband, confided in me that she was herself contemplating similarly rash behavior that would contradict her Christian witness and likely lead to even more complex problems in her family and other aspects of her life. We spent a great deal of time over three days discussing her spouse, her hurt and anger, her motives, her family, and more. At the same time, a pastor who knew her well was aware that something was bothering her. After a couple of days, she confessed to him, too, what was in her heart. Together the two of us helped her see the danger of allowing her emotions to dictate her response to her pain. I was able to talk to her about potential mental health indications and consequences and relational danger, especially given her mother’s history of bi-polar disorder, multiple marriages, infidelity, mental instability, and adverse family consequences. And the pastor was able to guide her through Scripture, bringing the convicting work of the Word to bear on the issues. He and I, from different but complimentary postures, were able to support her in the battle….lifting our arms to support hers in prayer to God for comfort, guidance, and healing.
It was during that three days that God showed me the Exodus image of Aaron and Hur holding up the weary arms of Moses and spoke to my heart about the different ways in which His people need to be supported in spiritual formation and battle. That image has, in part, guided my understanding of my call to ministry as a Christian counselor and educator. I am, because of my own experiences, able to be somewhat of a “technician”, a peer-helper, an assistant in problem-solving………. a “Hur”.