The whole experience has made me question what a calling lived out looks like for me. Lets take a quick look at it.
See, my first job at a church was at this church as an intern youth pastor. I spent four years as the intern doing very little up front stuff at the church and a heavy load of behind the scenes work. This was where I fell in love with the ministry. I enjoyed being a pastor to students without having all of the responsibility of speaking in front of adults or having to participate in "the show" that was a Sunday morning worship service. My passion was for the daily life with God and my students. I was called away to a new church after those four years. I tried to replicate the up front personality that I had seen work so effectively for the youth pastor at the church I had interned at, after all I was now "The Youth Pastor" and I assumed that it came with a whole list of responsibilities and job descriptions that an intern just didn't have to worry about. So I began to integrate into the Sunday morning service, doing segments and prayer and speaking to adults on Wednesday night. By the end of my time at this church I had even started an inter-generational service. I was called back to the other church to begin a new middle school ministry. I look back at pictures of that church and I see the big flashy screens and LED lights I had installed during my time there in the background and I am constantly reminded of the "that wasn't me" feeling. I never quite felt passionate about standing on the stage in front of everyone. The pictures that make me smile are the ones where you could just tell our youth group spent our lives together. You could see our involvement with each other on a daily basis and not just during "the show". Those are the good times in ministry.
I remember back in college, I was running for a student government office and had to address the whole freshman class in chapel. I got up in front of the microphone said one word and froze. I literally couldn't talk. I knew the things I wanted to say but the medium for which I was given to say it terrified me beyond being able to control myself. I have certainly come a long way in what I am capable of doing. I can address large crowds, but I don't look them in the eye if you know what I mean. I kind of fixed one problem only to reveal a second issue. I have begun to LOVE the behind the scenes part of ministry. I would rather be spending time with my students than on a stage. Have you ever planned a bible lesson in the form of a conversation to be had over a game of cards or during a car ride? That's my style. I am good at that.....
What This Means:
I think living out my calling is different than the traditional pastoral staff member. I don't see myself on the stage everyday as an associate. My fear is that in ministry the loudest voice is the one that gets heard. The problem is I do want to be heard,
I just don't want to be loud.
I have spent about five and a half years working at this church altogether. I heard it said this week that our church has grown up and the staff has grown up with it. One of the reasons I came back was the switch that the church made to a community church. That is a concept I have become passionate about. This is the place to live out my calling.....
I was indeed called into the ministry but not the show.
My hope is that God continues to expand opportunities for me to serve and lead in our church. I am scared that he is going to call me out of my comfort zone though. Can my calling lived out actually work without me ever being the front man? Is there a space on the pastoral staff for the behind the scenes guy?
I guess tune in next time to find out -Just_Jon