#Vocation (A Rethink Church Lenten Experiment)

My story isn’t unique.  A young boy interested in a girl is invited to church.  He doesn’t know he’s about to have his life changed. All he’s thinking about is spending time developing a romance, unaware of the real relationship he is being invited to discover.

The girl isn’t interested, but soon the boy doesn’t care.  He’s found something much greater than a high school crush.  It will take him (are you still tracking that this is me?) a decade or so to figure it out, but those nudges experienced in youth group are the first steps he will take to becoming a pastor.  (I wrote a bit about this here.)

We could all tell a story about how we were encouraged to some career, some job, some work.  The Rethink Church folks have me thinking about this again as they ask:

God is calling you.  But to where? And to what?

God is calling you.  Present tense.  Not has called.  Not will call.  Is calling.  I sense motion and activity.  This present calling is alive and full of energy.

Though rooted in the past, this calling propels me into the future.  My identity.  My purpose.  My life.  All are caught up in this calling.

And for me, the call is to be a pastor.  An United Methodist pastor.  stole

Such timely questions as we enter into a time of year in the United Methodist Church when Bishops and their Cabinets meet to discern the deployment of the pastors in their Conferences.  It’s that time when we all remember our call is lived out through itinerancy. (Interested in the United Methodist Church?  Check out Rethink Church or find more here).

Without discussing the pros and cons of the itinerant system itself, the questions of “called to where and to what?” are basically what the Bishop and pastors (and churches) are asking themselves.

Should I stay or should I go (or should she/he stay or go)?  Is the likelihood of me doing the greatest good represented by remaining in this place or by going to a new place?  Am I growing in Christ-likeness?  Am I “effective”?  What does my call look like today?  What might it look like tomorrow?

We talk about affinity.  We seek insight into the mission field.  We evaluate gifts and graces.

I want to set all that aside for this ramble.

Instead, I want to remind myself, and perhaps you dear reader, what I sometimes overlook in all this.  God is calling.  God.

God is calling me.  God is calling me to the ups and downs and the confusion and triumphs.  God is calling me to serve and share and love and give.  God is calling me to think and speak.  God is calling me to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly.  God is calling me to notice the poor, the left-outs, the unwanteds.  God is calling me.  It’s God and not the Bishop.  Not the Church.  Not my family. Not my friends.  God is calling me.

Calling me to where and what?  These questions miss the mark. Call is not really about a place or a particular ministry.  Call is bigger than that.  The call is ultimately to love God and to love others (especially my wife and children, but not just them).

I’ll be spending the rest of my life living into that calling.  And you can as well.  Maybe we can live the call together?

Life is better together,
Shawn

 

Be sure to check out what a few of my friends are sharing during this Lenten experiment.

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