Wednesday, March 25, 2009

College and Call

We got the results of our sacraments exam and I passed. Only four out of eleven passed. I don't know what comment to make about that.
One of the phase 1's tripped in the shower this morning and may have broken her leg. So that has been this morning's excitement.
I am struggling with my sense of 'call' at the moment. I am struggling with my reasons for doing things. You know, they say that sticking out phase 1 is a test of one's call. It could also be a test of one's pride and stubbornness. I am finding that I am not motivated by call, but by other things that I subconsciously put in place to just get through. And so I need to ask myself intentionally about call. Because I will get through on plain stubbornness, which doesn't prove much. And encouraging stubbornness in me is probably not a good thing. Right now, I might be on the road to fulfilling my call, but I don't see it in this moment. I have to believe it will be there in the future.
So, I am asking questions about motives.


John van de Laar said...

This may give you something to think about, or it may just be the ramblings of an arrogant prat - you decide.

Perhaps it's time to define your call more precisely. I bounced in and out of ministry for years until I was able to define specifically what it was that I believed I was called to. Once I had clarified this, and it had been "verified" or supported by trusted people close to me, and through my own experience of trying to live out of this specific call, I was able to begin to work out how to make this call part of my life long term, while cutting out all that "the ministry" required of me that didn't fit this call.

This is my story so it may have no relevance for you. If so, ignore it and me. But, perhaps your struggle is not with whether or not you are called, but what, specifically, you are called to. At least looking from the outside, I suspect that may be the case.

And, in my honest opinion, Phase One training is not designed to help you identify or express your specific call at all. It's really a one-size-fits-all system (as systems tend to be), which enables the trainers to provide a programmatic, measurable, experience for all the varied people that enter our ministry. As such, there is some value to be gained, lots of stuff to just endure, and then, finally the freedom to step out of it, into a more unique and God-designed process of training through ministry experience for your unique call.

Or at least, that's how I see it. I hope this neither cynical, nor irrelevant, but perhaps, helpful.

Blessings on your journey - and enjoy the time with your family.


Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi John. No I don't think you are being cynical or any of that and you are helpful.
You are absolutely right in that I am struggling with the 'one size fits all' system. When I started the candidating process the likelihood was that I would have to survive one year of this. But now there is a further three years of college. I believe that the church is doing the right thing with this college. But - I won't be living my call until 2013 at the earliest - I wish there was a bit of leeway in the system.
But God will show the way.

John van de Laar said...

I wish there was an easier, more creative way through probation! I'm glad I'm not going through it now. I feel for you and I'm praying for you. Unfortunately frustration is part of the package! But, know that there are some of us out there that understand, that are available for a chat if you need it, and that will support you in prayer throughout. This won't make it any easier, but at least it's a bit of support.

Also, I am a strong believer in subversive ministry. This is going to sound strange, and I guess it's a tad rebellious in its own way, and you're probably doing this already, but I'd recommend that you seek ways to exercise and express your call now - even as you journey through the one-size-fits-all system. In small ways - whether online, or in small informal groups that you create yourself, you may be able to find small pockets of ministry where you can do what your heart knows you are called to. I have always found these to be the sources of life that get me through the rest of the 'stuff'.

For what it's worth.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Thanks John - that really does help. What you call 'subversive ministry' has got me through most of my life. I thought that now going into the ministry was going to put an end to that. And I have felt guilty and resisted finding other things to do. I am now realising that I must just do it. Thanks.

John van de Laar said...

It was a bit of a shock to me too when I discovered that even in "the ministry" my most effective work of ministry was done in subversion.

So - an end to guilt! An end to the resistance! Viva subversion! And may God bless you as you do God's subversive work...

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Thanks John!

Arthur said...

Hi Jenny! I love this dialogue between you and John. I gives expression to something of my own journey and I find myself smiling as I read your blog posts pertaining to managing to fit into a system that perhaps is too prescriptive and programmatic.

As you know I served in the pastoral ministry for 10 years before feeling a strong call back into the formal education sector. In my new role as head of a growing independent school I am discovering another aspect of ministry as I deal with parents, teachers and pupils. A speaker I recently heard referred to schools as the 21st century parish and more and more school leaders, particularly in the independent sector, have some form of ministry background.

I have come to realise that my years in formal ministry were excellent training for what I am currently doing. I realise that those 10 years were but preparation for what God had planned for me.

For many years I have held deep reservations about the MCSA Phase 1 program. I have no doubt that some good comes of it, but I have a fundamental problem with the 'cookie-cutter' approach and the hyprocrisy of preaching family unity and then uprooting and often separating families. I often felt that if the Lord had called me into the ordained ministry I would have not chosen the MCSA as the organisation in which to express that calling.

I have the utmost admiration for your courage and determination in your journey. Your desire to see this first year through is commendable. I pray that God will continue to strengthen you and give you wisdom in your journey towards ordination.

Have courage to become a "rebel" within the system - it needs some shaking at times! As John says, exercise some subversive ministry if for no other reason than to keep your calling clear in your own mind and heart.

Please give my regards to your family and enjoy the time you have with them.