I did an Internet meme with one of my friends today, and for the "Ask you something I've wanted to know about you" part, she said, "I think you would make a wonderful minister. Is that something you've considered?"Yesterday I Replied All (and tweaked the recipient list a bit):
I cracked up, because people keep telling me I should go to div school/seminary (and I would totally love getting to geek out about religion full-time) but I think I'm highly unsuited for most of what's involved in actually being a minister.
Subject: Gee, where have I heard this before?One thing that's funny is that in sitting with the idea a bit after I sent the email, the idea of getting to do church as my LIFE was really thrilling me. Though as Tallessyn (CWM's Music Minister) pointed out in her reply, "Just because you love something doesn't make it a vocation. i love math, for example."
At lunch today, my coworker Cailin was asking if I was thinking about grad school, and I said no, I'm just taking classes for fun, enjoying my cushy job. She said I "LIGHT UP" when I'm taking about religion or when religion comes up, and so I should think seriously about pursuing that as a career. She also thinks I sell myself short in saying I'm not cut out for ordained ministry. I didn't get into the fact that if I did decide to pursue ordained ministry I would have to do it through the United Methodist Church since CWM is my home, and that means stuff like itinerancy system... nevermind of course the fact that I'm queer. She half-joked that I should set up The Church Of Elizabeth. Haha, yeah, no. (She also suggested theology professor as a career option, which I really don't feel a pull towards.)
Trelawney suggested that I examine my skill set and what kinds of work I might enjoy. Which makes a lot of sense. (I realized after lunch that one problem in having this conversation with Cailin was that she doesn't seem to really grok what being a pastor entails -- she's not church people.)
I realized in talking to my best friend that evening that really there are 2 separate issues on the table here: (1) Should I go to div school/seminary? (2) Should I serve the church in ways beyond what I'm already doing?
People have frequently suggested that I go to div school/seminary, and I've been increasingly involved in liturgical planning. It's not like I haven't thought about these things.
But I'm also still not a fan of the "you're too smart (or whatever) to be doing this job." I appreciate Cailin's concern that I not wake up in 20 years and regret not having made different choices (and as long as I'm doing what I want to do, she will respect my choices ... she just knows how comfortable it is here and is wishing that someone had pushed her a little more a couple years ago and so she's trying to pass on the benefit of her experience to people she cares about), but I grew up with my mom doing about the same job I'm doing now, and she had and continues to have a fulfilling life, so I think in part the model I have is just different from the models Cailin's used to.
The work I do isn't less valuable for not having cache, and I'm not selling myself short by not having a more high-status job title, and the work I do not-for-pay is important work even if I don't have a specific title or paycheck associated with it.
I mean, pastoral care is what I do (see some of this, for example), just for select people rather than caring for an entire community.
But as my mom said, "You can make a differnece with no further education, no titles, no job description -- just showing up and speaking up, being there, etc. Just what you are doing."
Tiffany wants to have coffee with me when she gets back from maternity leave to talk about this, and I definitely support that. Continuing to discern my gifts and graces and where the Spirit might be trying to lead me are all things that I should definitely be attending to throughout my life, and I think actualfax churchfolk are gonna be much better soundingboards and guides for helping me in that discernment process than certain other classes of people.