Discerning, Waiting, and Pondering…

This week I saw my Spiritual Director for the first time in about a month. A trip to the West Coast, finishing my fourth and LAST! unit of CPE, starting a short-term chaplaincy contract all contributed to our schedules not meshing. She listened, I talked and cried (a little), and then came the question:

SO. How do you think you can combine your vocations?

Because, as we had discussed, I am a pastor AND a chaplain. I love to preach the Word and tend God’s Sheep, as well as be Present with those who need a spiritual companion. I am a feminist AND a Christian. I am a trapazoidal peg in a theological world of round or square holes. And there are times I feeling like I’m playing with the “shape sorter ball” of my children’s childhood…  For you see, there are a LOT of different pieces I could pick up and “fit” into as a pastor or chaplain. But I’m not seeking to “do it all” — just trying to move in the direction where I am best equipped to work.

A recent job opening came to my attention. There was LOTS to like about it; I was initially intrigued. But when I went a little deeper into the cultural boundaries of the position, I quickly decided I should not take my application any further and declined to interview. If I can’t speak to the issues of my heart: of equality, of service, of environmental responsibility, of attachment parenting, of spirituality being more than rules… then I am not the person they want. And I’ll save us both heartache if I just move on.

And I’m trying to move on. But I keep looking back at the job, as it if were in the rearview mirror, thinking: Well, what if I SAID that could agree with their stance on “______” just to be accommodating and show compassion to their community? And “work to change it from the inside” as a member of the team?

And just as quickly, I shake my head and re-direct. NO, no, no!! The values I hold are important. And a driving force. And can’t be compromised.

The affirmation and encouragement I hear from supervisors and peers, from my closest and best advisors, including my husband of 25 years, all tell me to hang in there and wait. To listen, discern and WAIT. And as I pray, to look with an expectant heart towards where God wants me.

A few days ago, when I was really struggling with this waiting business, I received emails from a couple of friends who had taken the first ministry assignment they were offered when they graduated from seminary. They are unhappy. They don’t know what to do. And they asked for my prayers as they discern what to do next.

At least I know I am in good company.

So for my searching friends…. and for me, there is a deeper answer. It’s not finding the “perfect” fit in a ministry job. It’s not about being in a high-powered church with book deals. It’s not even about making money (though, let’s face it, I’m ready to have a job that pays a bit more than minimum wage.)

It’s about nurturing that love I have for God and God’s people, and seeing what I do, this work that I’m called to, as a labor of love, bringing a smile to God’s face.

I think I can live with that!

23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. 24 You know that you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3, CEB)

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