Reading about Henry Marsh’s vocation to neurosurgery, I thought about my own calling as a minister. I was startled by his depiction of detachment from patients.
Are the rest of us so different from our brothers and sisters in Libya or in Charleston? Are they heroes with whom we can never identify?
The feast of resources on discipleship, faith and work, and theologies of vocation continues to grow. Doug Koskela provides another serving, this one intended for young adults.
My brother is nine and I am ten. Wood already obeys his hands when he asks it gently to work with him.
Ministry is incarnationally specific. Pastors are called to see their place and people with God's "lover's eye," and to love them for their particularity.
"People sometimes come in guarded and defensive. But they want to be understood, and they want to minister well."
One time at a women’s retreat, I was asked to tell my call story. I told this woman the whole, convoluted story—about serving as a missionary in Japan, about being restless in my work and volunteering for leadership roles in my church, about discovering old journals where I had written about my desire to study theology, about my memory of sitting in church as a teenager and hearing the pastor give the sermon and saying, “If I was a man, that is what I would want to do.” I told her that it had taken me a long time, but I finally realized that God was calling me to be a pastor. She was not impressed.
David Keck offers a refreshing addition to the conversation about vocational expectations. Eugene Peterson’s vision of holiness resonates with Keck, but Keck takes a different tack.
The thing about preaching and pastoral care is that we often recognize our own problems in everyone else. I suppose that’s why pastors are so often hypocrites—we’re always preaching about our own issues. Then we have to live with the words that we doled out.
I was sitting in a seminary classroom, taking part in an internship program, and the professor was waxing eloquently about calling. It was all good. She was quoting Frederick Buechner and Howard Thurman, and describing vocation as our deepest joy and what makes us come alive.
A few years ago I was interviewing a couple of church planters, and the conversation turned to finances. The husband-and-wife team, Juan and Cirila Lugo, had paid out-of-pocket for many expenses when the congregation began meeting. They were pleased that it had become self-sufficient enough to hire Juan full time. Cirila told me, without a hint of complaint, about writing sermons on her lunch break while she drove a delivery truck six days a week. But she didn't call herself bivocational, and rightly so.
The call of Abram is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. I have moved quite a lot, and the experience of packing up my life in England to move to the U.S. nearly three years ago is still fresh in my memory. The challenges that face Abram and his family are exciting, probably daunting, but certainly not without their cost. I love the way the call is vague about the destination: it seems that getting moving is more important than knowing the final details.
Beverly Donofrio had just been “looking for a monastery to join, for Christ’s sake.” She had closed her laptop, having bookmarked religious communities she might write to, then had fallen into a deep sleep. During the night she was raped at knife point in her home in Mexico.
I once saw children's ministry as a steppingstone to something else. This attitude put me in league with the hindering kind of disciples.