As a person in ministry, I do a lot of thinking about calling, listening to others talking about calling, helping students begin to hear their callings, and talking about calling. God’s calling is a central theme in my life.
In recent months, I have had several friends who are examining their callings and seeking the next places God is calling each of them too. Specifically, my friend Whitney has just been called by God to be part of a mission team in Chile. These are scary and exciting next steps for her and I’m really happy for her because I have been praying with her in the past months about what exactly God wanted her to do next and I’m glad that the restlessness that she’s been feeling is over as she has discovered what is next. In the last ten years, I have watched so many of my friends and acquaintances step into new things and answer the call to go into some wonderful places and do some awesome things. I’m always really happy for my friends, but sometimes their transitions make me feel restless and nervous.
There have been times in my life when people tell me “You’ve missed your calling.” Mostly I hear that after I preach a sermon at church or when I lead part of ministry outside of what I am specifically called to do as the Youth and Christian Education Director of our church. I suppose what they mean is, “You should have been a minister,” and I suppose, in some cases, they are just being nice more than anything. But there are some people who are watching and waiting for me to go to seminary and become a “real minister.”
I have felt that pressure for awhile now and I’ve struggled with it, unsure about whether or not there were some next steps that I just wasn’t taking. As I celebrated my ten year anniversary at the Henderson church, I was well aware that it is actually quite odd for a paid youth director/minister/leader to remain at the same church for such a long time. As I was wrestling with this, Jan Edmiston posted this on her blog. In the post, she talks about how it’s almost embarassing that she’s been the minister at her church for 21 years. That struck a chord with me that brought tears to my eyes. I could never quite decide if it was awesome or silly that I had been at the same place for ten years. Rev. Edmiston and I exchanged a couple of emails about this and her additional words were helpful to me as well.
I think I’m finally ready to accept that this is in fact my calling. Youth ministry. Specifically youth ministry in Henderson. Is it my lifelong calling? I have no idea. Is it really, truly where God has called me to right now? Yes. Is it real ministry? Yes (and if you don’t believe me, feel free to come spend a week with me and see what happens).
Does it make me nervous to write the above words? Yes. Do I worry that you’re sitting at your computer thinking I’m an idiot? Why, yes, despite my best efforts not to worry about that, I do.
Yet, here I am, coasting into another school year, finished with Vacation Bible School, a high school mission trip and a middle school mission trip. The thought of leading or even just attending any one of those events makes a lot of people want to run away and hide, and yet I loved every minute of all three of them. I’d go back and do any of them again–in fact, I’ve done them all before and God willing, I’ll do all three of them again next year. The growth that happens, the lightbulb flashes of understanding, the service and the fun times–I’m so glad I get to be a part of all that. I am glad that Youth Group is again meeting regularly, I can’t wait for After School Club to start up again and I’m reviewing and ordering Fall Sunday School materials like the curriculum geek that I am. I feel grateful and awed all at the same time when I consider the fact that God has called me to do something that I love as a full-time job and that there is a church family who supports me in doing that. I know that’s a gift.
Today I am sure that I have not missed my calling and I’m grateful for the confidence I have in saying that.