Dip your toe in. Cold shivers up your leg, all the way to your shoulders. Excitement and fear flood over you as you stand in line. As you wait, you think of all the reasons why you should get out of line: It’s chilly. I might flop. They may laugh. There is a slight breeze.
Yet, you stay in line. You are next. You take your place on the board.
Now what? You should have figured this out in line. People are waiting.
The choices are endless: spin move, flying squirrel, jack knife, a flip, a classic dive… Wait! Your feet start to run and all you hear before you hit the water is your own voice yelling out, “CANNON BAAAAALL!!!!!”
The Church wants me back. But am I ready?
After four long years of seminary, I took a break, took a nap, and now I’m being asked to take a job. The Church wants me back. But am I ready? Am I really this new person I claim to be? Do I actually have the ability to become the new pastoral presence I think I have been shaped into?
…Yes? No? Maybe?
The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology does an amazing job of helping pastors find their voice, claim their particularities, and take steps towards becoming more of the beautiful creation they are intended to become.
I did that. I went through the process. I wrote the papers, read the books, took the classes, and found a therapist. I have told people that I am not the same. I have felt like I am not the same. But am I?
Fear and doubt are seeping in…
I have enjoyed my break. I needed to rest, sleep, and get my head out of all the crazy amounts of books that I had seemed to be drowning in the last four years. Now that I have resurfaced, am I actually the Master of Divinity the fancy piece of paper says I am?
I am afraid that after diving back into ministry I will fall into my former, unhealthy patterns. These old habits, resident before I went through the transformational experience of seminary, were not bad, just not fully good.
Do I trust the call I have been given? I could just hide in this break forever. I could pull a Jonah and belly-of-the-whale my way out of here. I could become a barista. I did that once, I could do it again.
Wow! Have you noticed how many times you’ve read the word I? I must be missing something. This all feels as though I am missing something. It all feels off.
IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!
That fear that’s making my head spin with doubt is the old me trying to creep back in to tell me that I am not good enough to be all of who I am. The very thing I am afraid of is actually happening.
But guess what…
I saw it this time. This is new. This is the new me, the more complete me making a big appearance!
When those of us in vocational ministry listen to the fears or lies we have been told about ourselves, it opens up a space to place ourselves at the center of the work to be done. We replace God’s vision with our fear and fail to tend well to God’s Creation. I must confess that I have listened to my fears and lies more than I want to admit. Thankfully, God is God and I am not.
Romans 8:15-17 in The Message, says this:
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life [aka fear]. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
There are too many times in my life when I have let fear make the decision for me and, therefore, allowed my work to be off kilter. Romans 8 reminds us that when we live a life outside of the death of fear, we claim an adventurous life and our identity. It does not tell us that our lives will be without conflict or hardship, but that we will celebrate with Christ as we persevere through the pain with Him.
Now on to adventurous expectation.
And so with this revelation I must take this new position at this new Church with adventurous expectation.
I must remember that God is bigger than my fear. When doubts about who I am and my abilities rise up within me, I must claim that I am a Child of the Creator, I was made for this work, and I am not alone.
We must push past our fear, claim the truth of who we are, and yell, “CANNON BAAAAALL!!!!!”