Ordination Sunday. April 28, 2010
When I started my job, I had no real idea what I was walking into. I knew I loved students, and I knew I loved my church, and I knew that my job with Reba was not the long-term solution for me. So I jumped in.
Do you now, in the presence of this church, commit yourself to this sacred trust and its attendant responsibilities?
I didn’t know what it looked like to work in ministry. I didn’t know how to have a pastor who was also your boss. I didn’t know how difficult it would be to balance work and personal time when so much of it was one and the same.
Will you, who are called to lead, still humbly follow pastoral direction?
I didn’t know how to teach. I didn’t know how to write Bible study lessons. I didn’t know what was important for students to learn about God and faith. I didn’t know what they would be interested in and what would make them think and what would change their lives.
Will you be diligent in your study of the Holy Scriptures, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing and applying its precepts?
But I did know how much they needed to be loved. And I did know what a difference it makes for a teenager to have an adult who cares about their well being. I knew that the only way they would care about God and faith and the Bible after high school was if someone gave them room to ask questions and learn and doubt in a safe place. I knew I could provide them that.
Will you undertake to be a faithful, loving and courageous pastor to all who need your care?
I learned quickly. Trial by fire. I learned that this was no ordinary job. I learned that who I was at home mattered in my work. I learned that a job you love can come at a cost. I weighed that cost daily. I struggled and struggled and struggled. I tried to be a good person and care for the people in my new world, even when it hurt and burned and they didn’t care for me in return.
Will you pattern your life and ministry after the life and ministry of your Lord and will you first teach by example what you will teach by words that the cause of God be not mocked?
I learned the value of words and the weight of actions and that how you speak matters more sometimes even than what you’re saying. I am still learning how to keep my defenses in check. How to turn the other cheek. How to hold my tongue when necessary.
Will you be a person of prayer and private devotion: a contemplative shepherd who spends time alone with God?
I know now that I can’t do this on my own. That no combination of organization and planning and personality can make this job happen. You can’t give what you don’t have, and trying will knock you out faster than LL Cool J. I am learning to take time for myself when I need it, whether that’s a quick road trip or a weekend in Texas or an afternoon at the park. It’s part of my job. It has to happen or I am ineffective before I even get started.
This past Sunday, I stood in front of my family, my students, my friends and my church body and said “I Will” and “I Do” to the requirements of an ordained pastor. The spiritual giants in my life stood over me, laid hands on me, robed me and presented me to the congregation. I helped lead communion for the first time. I went from pastor to Pastor.
May the Lord who has given you the will to promise these things forever give you the grace and power to perform them.
Amen, and amen.