Earlier today I posted about my worries that perhaps I was putting my family before my calling.
Thank you everyone for helping me to work through something that’s been bothering me for some while. A good slap with a sensible stick, or several wet fish, never did a girl any harm at all.
To start with talking through your responses with Graham, we think we’ve worked out where this hang up stems from. We both spent a particularly formative period in our lives being told again and again that Jesus demands our 100% and nothing less will do. Whilst that is true, I think that now we’d all say that only part of that 100% is in the sphere of church life and ministry/leadership, and that witnessing to giving some of that 100% being in the sphere of family, creative, sporting or other aspects of our lives is important too. We’re also back in the issues I’ve encountered before with obedience – too much obedience, too little independent thinking, not the other way around.
I was pretty sure my concern was badly misplaced, but it’s actually talking/blogging about it that has shone the light into some of the cracks in the formational process; both my long term formation as a Christian mentioned above, but also the process of selection and ordination training that I’ve been engaged in more recently. I say that because though by the end we’ll have had discussions about all sorts of difficult theology and situations that we’ll face (I’m on a module described as ‘Interdisciplinary Approaches to Suffering’ at the moment), we’ve as yet (with six months to go in my case) not really grappled with some of these issues that, as I see it, relate to how our calling is going to work out as individuals. Part of this is I admit part of the work of a spiritual director, who in my case will I’m quite sure have read this when I see him next week, but there are wider more universal issues too. From what you say about how we understand the commitment we offer in various forms of ministry, the differences between SSM and stipend ministry, and separately priesthood exercised at what is horribly phrased as ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ forms. Perhaps I’m hitting this too early and it comes in IME, or perhaps it should have been thought through more clearly during selection when I took ‘best advice’, but I suspect more likely it’s down to what we each work out for ourselves as we grow and develop as ministers, and as our circumstances and freedoms to exercise our priestly ministry changes over time.
There is also an element I hope, of me crawling out from under a stone here. Knowing where I will be serving my curacy has sparked some hope after what has been a very low few months going round in circles in some theology books. I’m asking questions of myself, and you, again. There’s another post already lined up for next week which I guess starts to look at some of those boundary issues that Pam and others have pointed out, as I start to look forward once again to the joy of vocational ministry (stipend and otherwise) that Glorious Things and others have reminded me of.