Now that I’m ordained, what now? Whatever God calls and blesses me to do.
I am still the same servant as I was on the Saturday evening before the cermony, serving together with all of you. Then I was ordained on Sunday. My role here at First Baptist remains the same: caring for our children, teaching any and all who will listen, visiting folk, bringing the word on an occasional Sunday service, working with our interim and eventually, our newly installed senior pastor and, most importantly, praying for you whenever you need prayer.
It will always be my prayer that my heart for service and serving in this community of believers will never change. Well, maybe change a bit – only to grow deeper in spirit and service and encourage others to do the same. How does one go about doing that?
Especially after three years of grappling with questions of faith, definitions of eschatology, interpretations of various terms, I finally learned the answer to: “What exactly is my call to ministry?”
Now that I know – how do I share some of that information in a good way? This journey of ordination was one of self-reflection, discipline and a lot of communication with God. Only I could make the adjustments in my philosophy, my convictions and my faith. But, all of us are traveling on that same journey. We are alone on our journey; however, we have many traveling partners who are on their own journey of growth in their discipleship. Together, we talk, offer advice, pray, study, and continue to search out the truth as we need to embrace it, alone and simultaneously, with others.
Jesus calls us to be in community with others: “…where two or more are gathered in my name, I will be in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). We learn together. We learn alone. We share what we learn when alone and with others. And this is the best part: we get to sift through all the advice, input, research, prayers, and, with guidance from the Holy Spirit, we get to decide what is the best direction for our discipleship.
In other words, what is God calling you to do, to be, to offer, to sacrifice, to give?
Then the tricky part happens. Others have given advice, prayed for you, studied with you and then you and God decide to do something different than the advice offered. Whoa! Tentacles of criticism begin to creep. Why? Wrong way! What happened?
Friends become the distraction rather than the positive energy for strength to grow. We all fail. We all succeed. How did we learn to keep going? By trying. It is that simple. If we had given up at the first sign of failure, we wouldn’t have grown very deep in our faith. If we had stopped at the first success, we wouldn’t have grown very deep in our faith either.
Listen to what God is calling you to do. I often hear, “I just don’t hear God’s voice and when I think I do – how do I discern whether it is God’s voice or mine convincing me?”
Ask one question: “If I go ahead with this (whatever this is), is it more pleasing to God or more pleasing to me?” Go on – answer that one honestly! You will know if it is God’s voice or yours. Just keep moving on in your journey. If you fail – learn from it and keep going. If you succeed – celebrate it, giving God the praise.
The key is to not stop learning, growing, failing, succeeding, praying; but, to keep listening to God, sharing what God has done for you with others, and supporting others on their journey. We are not all in the same place in our discipleship – but we are together. Let others be where they are (even if it seems stagnant to you!) and make sure you are moving forward in yours.
Sometimes we get stuck in our own place trying to help others out of their ruts. Once it seems clear to you that they want to be stuck for a while – let them be stuck! God will wait right there with them with steadfast love and patience. I know this because God waited patiently for a long time for me to finally answer the call to ministry.
What now? Whatever God calls. I will continue in my discipleship which began on July 17, 1998. I chose to follow Jesus as one of his disciples. I choose to share with others the grace and mercy God showed me. What now? Whatever God calls … I am listening.
-words by Pastor Deena Barwick, printed in the May 2015 issue of the Tapestry.