Sarah Blake LaRose (3kitties) wrote,
Sarah Blake LaRose

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Feeling the call to ministry?

I have wrestled since starting seminary with defining my "call to the ministry." It is something that everyone is asked to do when entering seminary, and it is often very difficult. Like everyone else, I tried to identify some mold that I fit into, some place where I was "called" to serve.

I'm not sure that was the point. Certainly there is a point to finding my area of giftedness and things that are practical issues in limiting what I can and cannot do. Someone who is tone deaf is likely not called to music ministry. It won't likely do for me to try to work in missions since I am dependent on American insurance and 15 medications. But there are a number of things I CAN do; and limiting myself based on what I had done in the past or what I knew I enjoyed wasn't working.

I've had a sort of revolution in my thinking. I wrote it out in answer to someone's question on the Church of God email list.

I think it is very normal for a young person to feel that call and then find that the details are "hashed out" over time and even can change. Personally, I don't believe that God calls a person to be "a youth minister," "a music minister," etc. If you had asked me this a few years ago, I would have said differently. But I've had some personal experiences that have forced me to come to terms with this.

When I first felt that little tug, I was a teenager and thought that my primary "calling" involved doing something with singing and songwriting. There was no reason to think otherwise: this is something I was doing in the church as well as at other churches regionally, and I was cranking out songs like a machine and showed an aptitude for music production. My parents, solely, questioned my ability to have stage presence due to my lack of use of gestures, etc.

During my 20s, I did a little work with a tiny youth choir for a couple of years. Later I spent several years working in children's ministries with infants and very young children. So all of my early experiences were with youth, music, and children. But what I know now is that my primary gift is not youth or children's ministry. My personality would not suit these types of positions on an ongoing basis, and I don't have the physical stamina necessary to play games and cope with high-energy settings like IYC.

One reason I'm not still doing nursery ministry is that I developed rheumatoid-type arthritis and can no longer hold a baby for more than a few minutes. So I tried something new: teaching adult Sunday school. I found that at this point in my life, teaching seems to be a good niche for me. And what happened to all that music? It is becoming part of my teaching ministry at times; but I'm not going to be a traditional music minister and probably won't be doing any "normal" itinerant music ministry. If I do anything itinerant that involves music, it will certainly have its own flavor. I like to talk, and I've always felt that my music is part of something else I'm doing, but I couldn't put that in words until now.

So I think that often if the church is willing to "experiment" a bit with a person who is feeling the call to ministry and help them discover what they are gifted in--and sometimes how their gifts change over time--the "minister" is discovered. The real question is does that person say yes to the call, whatever it is, and is that person willing to be molded in accordance with the way that call plays out? When God calls, it means giving up your own career aspirations and letting Him set the aagenda. Often we seem to think, "Oh, God called. I'll become a minister." And we still keep the agenda in our hands. A lot of troubled ministers are born that way, I think.

Incidentally, concerning my "stage presence," the overwhelming feedback I have received everywhere I go is that the lack of gestures seems to free people to connect with me in other ways. Perhaps I am connecting with segments of the population who are not reached by others onstage in the same ways... Just something worth thinking about.


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