Recently, I was reading a list of qualifications of how one knows if they are called to pastoral ministry. I was reflecting on my own life in the process and on John Broom’s post from February 15th.
Without denigrating my brother’s post (and actually using it to consider my own practices very carefully), I want to push back just a little and to hopefully think through some of these issues carefully.
On my personal blog, I get a fair number of emails per year from individuals who struggle with same-sex issues. I struggle to keep up with these individuals and give some of these folks the shoulder that they don’t have in person. I wouldn’t call it pastoral work in its technical sense, especially since I’m not (yet) ordained. However, I am doing pastoral-ish work and in at least one case, I’m talking to people who are in ‘vocational ministry’ in order to give and get wisdom as I interact.
I can’t possibly keep up with everyone who has written me. I can’t even keep up with all my friends in seminary. If I were to set right (even gently) everything I heard wrong in a public place about religion or Jesus, I’d be more busy than Chris Rosebrough and Ken Silva put together. It’s a tricky thing in our culture to intrude on a conversation which is not our own…sometimes, it’s okay and other times, it’s rude beyond belief.
All of this is, of course, in the context of (in John’s article), a sense in which he should say something. To disobey a call of God is, in fact, serious. I won’t judge my brother’s sense of calling in that situation and I join him in praying for that person who was erring in his conversation.
However, we pastors are a self-condemnatory lot. Let’s try to take some time and determine if God is really calling us to speak, or if it’s our own guilt complex motivating us to share Christ, even when to do so would not be wise. (And yes, I believe there are unwise moments to share Christ. Maybe I’ll talk about that in a future post.)
Above all, we are tools for the use of the Master. Christ is forming our hearts along the way and even if John never sees this person again, he will be more sensitive to those who are without Christ. And that, by itself, will make him more responsive to the leading of the Spirit who superintends his people with more care than we can imagine.