This week I spent an evening with some wonderful, gifted, anointed young adult clergy who inspired me greatly. I was blessed to listen to them talking about their hopes and dreams for the church. They described some good times and some challenges but overall I heard their hearts about how God was speaking to each of them about their ministry, goals to engage transformative ministry and to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As I listened to them and reflected on the stories that I have also heard over the years from established pastors I had a simple take away. We are not called to work toward being comfortable but we are called to be faithful. The energy, creativity, and enthusiasm that the young adult clergy live with should be our unending goal in ministry. It is easy to get side tracked and become complacent. I have heard statements like:
- “I retire in a couple of years and I really should not start anything new.”
- “As pastor my job is to keep everyone moving in the same direction and requiring the leadership to come to bible study or participate in a small group may cause conflict”
- “We do not need a new worship service to reach new people because our church is a family and we are comfortable with knowing everyone.”
- “There is no conflict here so if we pay our apportionments, file our reports on time and I show up at the appropriate meetings I will not be reappointed.”
I now view each of these statements as excuses for not engaging the call of ministry as vigorously as the work of being a pastor. As a pastor I am honoring an office that is a result of my calling. My calling is to live a life fully committed to teaching, preaching, the sacraments, service and the ordering of the ministry within the church. There is no retirement date, no promises that there will or won’t be any conflict and it is not about having a comfortable church family. It is about reaching men, women, boys and girls with the Good News that Jesus Christ is the risen son of God and our Savior. We are the people of God who share God’s grace as a lifestyle not a function of our office. We should be eager about encountering those outside of the church and challenging people to deeper spiritual maturity and greater awareness of self care boundaries.
Thursday evening was a reminder to focus on the call not the office. Because of the call I can endure the challenges of multiple priorities. Because of my call I set standards for leadership to be spiritual leaders and not just office holders. Because of my calling I can spend and hour in prayer and study, organize the staff, have lunch with leaders, have snacks with the youth afterschool, sip tea with my seniors and pray with the church council in one day. The calling is from God and God gives me the energy, strength and ability to fulfill all that I am called to do. The incredible group of young adult clergy encouraged me and challenged me. I am humbled and honored to be able to serve them and their congregations.