There are so many things that they don’t dare tell you in seminary.
I will soon celebrate twenty-one years as an ordained minister. I have been blessed to be ministering full time for all of these years, doing what I truly know I am meant to be doing. It is not a job or a career for me. It is my vocation. It is my life’s purpose that I happen to be paid to do. Though it was a circuitous route to the ministry I have never doubted the intuition that brought me here. I can clearly see that everything that I have been through in my life experience has helped prepare me for this form of service. Things that never made sense at the time they were happening have been necessary puzzle pieces in the vision that I am now living. I know that as long as I am on this planet a minister I will be.
While I have always been grateful for the seminary training I received, leading to my ordination, it didn’t prepare me for many of the things I have faced within this twenty one year time frame. As an independent contractor and an unaffiliated servant for much of that time I have had to feel my way through this journey, one prayer at a time. There is no effective manual or class for the myriad kinds of situations, circumstances, predicaments, personalities, traumas, and detours that need to be faced. It has proven to be the best kind of spiritual work out, demanding that I build an internal musculature that would allow me to navigate what needed to be handled.
There are so many things they don’t dare tell you in seminary. They don’t dare tell you that every single loveless perception within you will most certainly be revealed and highlighted. They don’t tell you that people will seek counsel from you on precisely the issues that you yourself are painfully struggling with. They don’t highlight the fact that while it is a blessing to be continually soaked in the oceanic presence of spirit that same soaking can frequently feel like drowning. No one mentions the dangers of over-identifying with the position, with the size and stamina of the congregation, with the financial solvency of an often fluctuating group commitment. Oh, there may be passing mentions of some of these issues. I later suspected that there was a calculated omitting of details that would send most seminarians shrieking for the hills.
Ministry has been both glorious and painful. It has refined me in ways that I never imagined. It has pushed every button and highlighted every deficiency. It has presented me on a daily basis with choices that often felt so trying to make. It has confronted me repeatedly with the choice between personal preference and what I knew to be best thing for the greater good. It has been a day to day decision to love. To love even when people seemed so unlovable, indeed, especially when people seemed so unlovable. To love those who opposed me and those who sought to sabotage me. To love when I was triggered and to love those who helped reveal the most hidden parts of me.
To love. That is what ministry is to me. I am an administrator of love. I am here to give and to serve love. It isn’t always easy or comfortable. But it is exactly what I am meant to be and do.