Religion roundtable: How did you decide to enter the ministry?
Jun 23, 2012 | 1098 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A gradual recognition

Before I was a priest, I taught people how to be journalists. Before that, I was a reporter and editor and coffee-maker and phone-answerer. Add floor-sweeper and hamburger-flipper to that and you’ve got the general idea of the range of what a pastor does.

Before, my job was to take care of students and reporters, to teach them things to help them along. Now, I do much the same with parishioners. I care for them, the ancient “cure of souls.”

The transition was like looking in the mirror. One day is much like the last, but then: “When did I become this gray-haired old guy?”

My call was much the same, a gradual recognition of my calling as a Christian, finding where I was useful.

One day I realized that the man looking back from the mirror was not just the same old professor. I saw a college ministry adviser and — gulp! — a person talking to his bishop about priesthood. It all seemed mysterious, yet logical.

Many traditions emphasize a flash of insight in Christian identity, the Road to Damascus experience.

My faith story reflects another ancient tradition. One of responding to God’s call each morning, gradually living out a call to the Christian life.

Frederick Buechner put it this way: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Michael Rich, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville

Never mind about me

Dear Reader,

I realize that personal testimonials are often very helpful, but I believe that more important than how I made this decision is what you should keep in mind as you respond to the reality of God’s call in your life.

I believe that you should know that He has not called you by mistake, but instead on purpose; this call from God is full of purpose. The following is an “open note” from God based on Jeremiah 1:5 and Isaiah 55:8:

“Before I formed you, I already knew about your habits, addictions and proclivities. I already knew your strategy for handling stress. I already knew about your mistakes and various indiscretions, and I decided to form you anyway.

“Some would think that with all that I knew about you, and how you would sometimes act so unbecoming to a child of mine, that I would not only rethink forming you, but that I would rethink saving you for my own special purposes. But in spite of what others may think, I set you aside for my special purposes anyway.

“I have appointed you; that is, I have endowed you with the ability, the authority and the right to accomplish all that I am requiring of you.

“Why you? For now just know these two things:

“1. My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.

“2. I love you.”

E. Steven Richardson, 17th Street Missionary Baptist Church, Anniston
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