I try to learn from my own mistakes. But I have learned a lot more from the mistakes of others.
My call to professional ministry was sparked by three pastors whom I approached for pastoral care – none of whom were very helpful. Not one even offered to pray with me. I remember telling a friend that “even I could be a pastor than those guys” and, frankly, I had no designs on ever going to seminary. But a call was born.
Today – Monday – was my first day in a new position that I feel called to serve – to some extent – because of the mistakes of other church people. If I’ve come with a special agenda, my agenda is to make it easier for leaders to do what God has called them to do. And to say no when necessary.
I’ve witnessed faithful, outside-the-box leaders be subjected to jumping through so many hoops that it crushed their enthusiasm and felt more like hazing than healthy process. I have a friend who was certified and ready to receive a call, having completed all requirements for ordination, but he was required to be “mentored” for an additional year when church officials were concerned about his tats and piercings. (Actually, we could use lots more leaders who look like that guy.)
My hope is to encourage a culture of getting out of the way.
Yes, processes are important. But perhaps the most important process involves the discernment of the community. And we have to know each other, we have to be in relationship with each other before we can discern someone’s gifts and a congregation’s needs. Healthy spiritual communities ask if a process, a decision, a call will promote the reign of God.
I’m going to make some mistakes in this job. My hope is that somebody will learn from them.