Blessed are you who are called by God to serve the church…
Then along comes someone saying surely you misheard.
Or that you don’t know what you are doing. They practically shout, wrong number!
They are the ones who are wrong.
You know what you heard. And what you are doing and why. You are learning how to do it. And you don’t need their approval.
You see the problems in the church and the world, and you are ready with thoughtful and creative ways forward.
Then another someone says you are too young. Too old. Too busy raising children. Or too single (and available). Too ambitious. Driven. Too distracted. Too much.
They miss out on seeing you. The full you. The person God is calling to this work.
Then one day…
Someone else looks you up and down and judges your competence and fitness as a minister.
They pass you by and then smile at the man they mistake for your boss.
They, too, are wrong. Their vision is skewed. Their ability to grasp the Spirit’s work is shackled to their biases.
Yet another someone fails to listen to you.
They say your voice is too soft. Or too loud. Too emotional. Too distant, cool, and aloof. Or too warm and vulnerable. Too sure of yourself. And not confident enough.
They do not really tune in to you, your words, your meaning, your presence.
They had already heard what they wanted to hear before you spoke a word.
Wow, are they missing out.
To be honest, you don’t have time to dwell in this muck.
You have a vision to share. Words to speak. Life that needs living. Details that need attention. Injustices that need remedies. A sermon to write. People to visit who are suffering, dying, and grieving.
If you spend your energy on the ridiculous indignities, you’ll never get to the heart of the calling which is yours.
But sometimes …
It catches you off guard. Pulls you up short. Makes you gasp. Gut punches you. Causes your jaw to clench in anger and disgust.
Occasionally someone else witnesses these exhausting snubs. They cry out over the injustice. Declare things must change!
And you may feel gratitude for their outrage, but really you just wish it would stop.
You pray sometimes, God deliver me from these fools. Why can’t they see that you sent me? That we are in this together? What exactly am I doing wrong?
But really, Friend. You are not doing anything wrong. You are doing so many things right and good and compassionate and healing. The church needs you more than it knows. More than it will allow you to be or to lead. It has already been changed by your long improvisational partnership with the Spirit and her people. Even when they miss what is happening in their own community. Right in front of them. Under their upturned noses.
This calling is a long game…
So find the people who know you. See you. Listen and respond to you. The full, messy, brilliant, striving, grieving, loving, powerful, vulnerable you. Those people will be your team. Your sounding board. Your friends and peers. And they will be your traveling companions on the journey to becoming more fully who you are called to be. The ones who don’t need to wait, but who love you now. The ones who have your back. And let you have theirs.
Even if you have just one person in your life like this. Grab onto the hope they inspire. Trust that they are God’s gift and will strive with you to keep your calling afloat. They are the very faces of God’s blessing, partners in the calling, friends who will see you through.
© Eileen R. Campbell-Reed
August 23, 2023
If today’s meditation resonates with your experience, then we hope you will consider becoming part of the Baptized & Ordained community. Especially if you are called to ministry, you may be seeking a place of connection and support. We are making space for you to learn, share your stories, and connect with others on the journey of embracing God’s calling in your life. Think of it as auditing a class where you can learn strategies and find support for the very changes you hope to see in the church and the world. Doors to this year-long learning community close October 1. Learn more today!