I’m currently in Seminary and am doing my classes online, but in order to get the degree we have to have a certain number of hours of ‘facetime’ with a professor (i.e. class) and a certain number of ‘community’ hours (i.e. unstructured campus experiences). In order to accomplish this task, Fuller (my Seminary) created a hybrid program that combines both the classroom and online classrooms into one by having a week together with your class, with four hours of class (per class I should say) and two hours of ‘community’ time at night. I was in two of these classes simultaneously, so I have had 8 hours of class and 2 hours of ‘community’ time each day…in California.*
*understand, I was in a building for at least 10 hours every day in sunny California…this was not what I had hoped for
One of my classes was Human Development in Context, and my professor had the genius idea of having us prepare five 5-minute presentations to be given each day in front of the class on each of these four areas of our own, personal, development: individual, familial, cultural, and spiritual. So, for at least 2 hours each day, we shared quite openly with one another what has made us into the unique people we are becoming. Today, the last day, we presented on our ‘call to ministry’, which is a term I have despised ever since I started searching for mine…
Because, every time I talk about what I was created to do, to be, I feel like I’m 17. I feel inadequate. I feel stifled. I feel as if I am the one person on earth who has been given a clear purpose for living and no opportunity for accomplishing that purpose. Which isn’t true, but that’s how I feel. Compound that feeling with hearing about 10 other stories of how God has done amazing things for everyone else to put them uniquely in the places that they find themselves is deflating at best. I think, “Cool! For some reason God has done some clear work in your life, and He seems completely ignorant of me in my vocation.”
What I know is that I was created to utilize the English language in order to communicate true things about Jesus and the Kingdom of God, through spoken and written word. I’ve always perceived this to be something that would happen through the church in some sort of pastoral role. That’s been my world. That’s been my context. That’s what made sense to me.
However, my (new) friend Katie asked me when I was done sharing all of these things, “Why do you feel like you need to do this professionally?” And she has a point. I dodged quite proficiently, but the reality is that I want to do something legitimately big, and since I’m not, I have been unable to see all of the ways that I have been able to use words in my own context, as a volunteer, at my church, on this blog, as a songwriter. And that’s no small thing. It’s just not the freedom that I want.
One other thing happened to and in me, which was the death of my least favorite character flaw. I gave up my need for attention, my need to be liked because I am clever or funny. I came in with that need fully exposed, and it melted away at some point. I realized that this was a group of people that I didn’t need to impress. They are my peers. They are super smart. They are super talented and engaging. In so many ways, they are living in beautiful ways the life that I hope to aspire to someday.
It was actually quite humbling to be a part of this group of people – from the lady who was working in strategic emergency response at the Pentagon on 9/11, to the Honduran who was smuggled across the U.S. border in a Corona Cerveza truck and is now the Executive Director of a multi-national evangelism organization at 40. Or the guy who has been just a YoungLife guy for the last 7 years who happened to invite Don Miller on an (now) infamous kayak trip to Malibu in Vancouver, or the young black man from Oakland who was raised in his childhood as a Muslim and who identified as a Muslim who believed Jesus was the Son of God prior to feeling called into the pastorate.
I actually feel confirmed in my commitment to remain connected to the greatest church community on the planet – a place in which I am able to play a significant role in helping my people become a people who re-members, re-minds, and re-tells the story of what God has done in history and continues to do in our time, who thanks God for the same, and who re-enter the community re-enacting that story in our lives. I can rest in that, knowing that I am/will be ready for whatever it is that God wants me to do whenever it is that he shows that to me.
For now, I am where I am, and I will do everything I can to make the most of this person I am in this place in which I find myself.