As we come to the end of Women’s History Month, I want to reflect briefly with you about my past week. My vocation began with a call to ministry while I was still in high school. I certainly could not see the whole way forward. And I continue to move ahead by an ongoing process of vocational discernment.
Answering a call to ministry has led to many surprising and amazing things. It has also led to some hard and challenging moments. Both kinds of moments happen regularly, perhaps daily. I still make mistakes and need to learn from missteps every week. And without learning from my failures, I don’t think I can really live fully into my calling.
Here is some of the work I did this week as I keep leaning into my vocation. Teaching seminary students and attending faculty meeting. Writing. Speaking at a leadership event. Planning research interviews. Writing up findings about ministry in the time of Covid. Hearing two former students preach. They were both fantastic! Meeting individually with students. And hosting a Writing Table for pastors, graduate students, and professors.
What did your week of responding to God’s calling include?
WomanGU Leadership Conference
Saturday I attended the first live conference I’ve been to in more than two years! And I led a session for “Woman God Uses (Woman GU)” in Nashville. My former student, Minister Teresa Thornton is the founder of WomanGU, and she gathered women from all over the state to learn about leadership. She asked me to speak about “Intellectual Integrity.” I shared the platform with two wonderful speakers, Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings and Rosalyn D. Hicks.
To meet that request, I focused on how we love God with our minds. And how we speak truth in love. And also how we speak truth to power. That work can get you into trouble. And I told stories from my own experience and shared a reading from Pastoral Imagination: Bringing the Practice of Ministry to Life.
I met women who are experienced ministry leaders. And I met women who are brand new including one who preached her first sermon last week. It was thrilling to hear stories from women newly called to ministry and make connections with them.
I concluded my talk with a bit of the story of women in the Learning Pastoral Imagination study. One group of ministers in our study spoke to us at length about “holy fierceness” it takes to do the work of social justice. They also talked about the holy fierceness it takes to care for one’s own well-being.
How can you care for your well-being with holy fierceness?
This week the folks over at Faith + Lead published one of my pieces about Emotional Intelligence.
— Three Minute Ministry Mentor (@3MinuteMin) March 28, 2022
Enjoy the full article here and check out the other terrific offerings from Faith + Lead. This summer I will be leading a workshop on Pastoral Imagination for ministry leaders. Watch for details coming soon!
How are you paying attention to your emotions and noticing where they point you to the holy?
March of 2022 marks 27 years of ordination for me. I remain the only woman my childhood church ever ordained as clergy. So many women like me, still remain the ‘firsts’ and ‘onlys.’ So hard to believe it has been so many years!
This brings my reflections for the week full circle. I seem to forget to mark my ordination date most years. March goes by in a blur of grading and writing and teaching. Yet this year I was determined to remember and give thanks on the day.
To be honest, however, I forgot to take a picture until the next morning on a walk. :-p But you know what? Every day is a good day to walk the path of vocational ministry. It is not always easy, but I’m never alone. And I wish I had understood more about how to trust the process when I was starting out. There were very few mentors or books to help me. In complete truth, I had that precise thought in mind when I wrote Pastoral Imagination. I want fewer people to feel alone in their calling.
Do you know someone preparing for ordination? About to graduate from seminary? Or perhaps starting Clinical Pastoral Education? Consider gifting them a copy of Pastoral Imagination. I’ll even sign it for them as I pray for their well-being and vocational discernment.
Picturing Pastoral Imagination
These snapshots of my work this week — teaching, writing, leading and mentoring — are ordinary in many ways. They are part of my ministry which is its own spiritual practice. This Lenten season we would love to see the ways you picture pastoral imagination in your life. Will you show us? We would love to honor your practice with you!