I received my call to the ministry in 1995. At the time I was not attending church, nor did I really have any interest in being involved with church. What I saw and heard of Christianity from the media did not really match my understanding of God or of the good news, and so I initially rejected the idea that I was being called to the ministry. But, and I know some of you can identify with this, it didn't go away; it was still with me.
I finally went to a church in 1998 to talk with a minister about what it would mean to enter the ministry as well as what was required, and began the long process. That process was completed for the most part last week when I appeared before the Board of Ordination seeking to become an Elder in full connection. They approved me and will recommend to the clergy session of the annual conference in June for ordination.
I went into the last interview very nervous not knowing what to expect but being as prepared as I could possibly be. It was much easier than I expected it to be, and certainly easier than it is in New England. I would say that New Mexico does a better job, from what I have seen, in preparing candidates more during the three year probationary period than does New England.
In some ways the ease of the interview was a little bit of a let down, because I was so ready to be attacked on my theology and thinking. And yes the term "attacked" is the correct one because that was often my experience in this process (which was done in New England). My hardest interviews still are those I had with the district committees rather than at the Board level, and I often felt that what I was being asked about had little to do with me and everything to do with the person asking the question. As I progressed further in the process that became even more obvious to me.
I will say that I am a very different person now then I was when I began the "formal" process. My theology is much deeper and more complete then it was even after I had my M.Div., and to a large degree the process helped me with that. Of course serving in the local church also helped with that process, and I know that it will continue to get better, and also change, the longer I am in the ministry.
But, now that the process is over I also feel at a loss. I have been working on this for so long (9 years since I entered the seminary) and it has been so much a part of what happened every year that now I am not sure what to do. Last Friday I found myself walking around the library just looking at things, sort of wandering aimlessly among the stacks, when I realized I was looking for something to fill the hole that was now empty because the "process" was over. Now that the goal was attained I literally didn't know what to do with myself.
I am grateful it is all over and I thank all those who assisted me along with way, and I certainly would not like to replicate any of it, but at the same time I miss it because it occupied so much of my life up to this point. I need to create some new goals and new things to be working on.