Thursday, February 15, 2007

First Call is a lot like...

The anticipation and preceding events prior to one's entry into ordained ministry are akin to labor - for some, it's all pain; for others, it is smooth sailing; for most, it's a mixture of the two. Along the way, midwives encourage, nurture, support, and gently guide us along while acerbic but necessary and indispensable nurses offend our sensibilities and goad us further along to the next necessary step. The transitions of CPE, internship(s), and the occasional difficult paper or text dot the labor monitor until the contractions of interviewing and the call process emerge full throttle. The negotiations, the housing arrangements, the panicked breathing lead up to the birth of the long-planned, long-awaited, long-anticipated Letter of Call. Finally, ordination arrives with its own unexpected experiences and realities that nobody could have put into words for you even if they'd tried.

The similarities don't stop there. I've decided that being a first call pastor is akin to the experience of becoming a mother:
  • I am tired all the time, but it's a mostly good tired because I love what I'm doing.
  • People seem to think I know what I'm doing and entrust me to do it, even though there are many moments I'm not so sure I know what I'm doing.
  • There is an important need to establish contacts in order to maintain (or discover?) one's sanity (e.g., pediatrician, pediatrician's nurse : seasoned colleagues, friends)
  • People look to you with excitement and joy about your new role. While you find the new role exciting and a dream come true, you also find the new role frenzied, exhausting, disorganized, and befuddling at times.
  • Illness, yours or another's, tends to no longer just be an inconvenience - it now has the potential to turn your day (or even your week) completely upside down.
  • Everyone has their own experience, wisdom and horror story to share.
  • All who are further along in the journey become a bit wistful as they remember and share stories of their own beginnings in the role.
  • There's a process of growing into the new role and label. "Mommy" and "Pastor" don't automatically equate to "me." Sometimes, I feel like we're playing church or like I should look over my shoulder to see the pastor to whom others are referring.
  • In some ways, it's like entering a new club, a fraternity of sorts, a group of like-stoled people experiencing the joys, trials, and holy ground of ministry.
Like parenthood, the pastoral journey is what I expected, is not at all what I expected, and is full of both challenge and serenity. It's a great deal more disorganized that I expected, there's a great deal more that people assume I know, and there's also the indescribable love. The birth has now occurred and the toddling is underway.


Name: MoCat said...

This is beautiful.
I'm preparing to take my first steps on the same journey. It's wonderful to read the perspective of someone who has already gone through the 'steps to ministry' process, and been birthed out the other side into ordination.
You go girl!

Iris said...

This is a great post! I've been ordained 5 years and I still have a lot of these feelings.

mark said...

having never been a mother, i cannot comment on that.

but having been a pastor for six months, now, i can say that you've got it dead on :)

Skdo said...

Mocat - you too can make it happen - follow your dream and your call. God will guide and lead you - sometimes despite your best efforts, sometimes because of them.

Iris - EEK! You mean these aren't passing feelings? I guess I need to stop saying, "When things calm down, I'll..."

Mark the little brother I never had - If you could comment on the mother part, I'd worry. :) Love, the big sister you never wanted