My excitement worries me
If there is doubt, a maybe or simply a curiosity about something it is always worth at least a precursory exploration of the issue rattling around within your thoughts. That exploration may quickly dispel the ‘what if’ and enable it to be forgotten, but it may expand and take you to new places and opportunities that you would have missed had the thought been left unexplored.
That is how the exploration of ordination began for me, and it has both transformed me and served up opportunities I may otherwise have missed. Continue reading
Stuck in a cul-de-sac with no reverse gear
I could tell by her tone of voice that it wasn’t good news.
The call from my DDO came earlier than expected. The Advisers at my BAP had not recommended me for ordination training. I felt numb.
I couldn’t find many words to keep the conversation going for long. There didn’t seem much point either when I was told that we wouldn’t find out why for almost a week.
The future that I had been preparing for had fell apart in an instant. I had been preparing for rejection too but experiencing it is very different. My emotions took the expected hit. It felt like a light had gone out, like a door slammed in my face. I knew that I would find it tough to hear such news, that I would be in a state of grief, but I hadn’t planned for my mind to be hit hard as well. Continue reading
A sanctuary for strange days
It is done. My Bishops’ Advisory Panel is over. It was quite an experience, quite a week. There are many people’s experience of a BAP that can be read, many practically focused, some even dealing with the pain of not being recommended. This is my account of my experience; an account of the emotions, fears and joys that someone has and can go through and that needs more words than other types of accounts of going to a BAP.
So if you’re willing and ready, read on! Continue reading
As someone exploring the possibility of becoming ordained I am engaging with issues like I have never done before. I am forcing myself to seek to understand things that I could get away with avoiding until now. At times such as they are, with some of the issues that are hotly being debated, it is rather attractive though to stay sitting on the fence.
Sometimes God doesn’t want your prayers for other people, sometimes He just wants to minister to you.
A Pastor once described the church and the life of a Christian to me as a ship made up of three parts. The bow is a battleship where those on the spiritual front line find themselves; it’s the most vulnerable part of the ship. The stern is a hospital ship, where those damaged on the front line go to recover. Finally there is the cruise ship that makes up the midship. Continue reading
This is the final of 3 posts written for my Ministry Enquiry Form, each on 1 of the issues that I was asked to consider before meeting some Examining Chaplains (they will be given the task of discerning whether I should be sent for a BAP). The first post (Rescued from the darkness) was my thoughts about my spiritual journey so far and considered how my sense of a call to ordained ministry fitted in it. It was followed by my understanding of ordination (Defining Ordination is harder than you think!). In this post are my thoughts on what I see as challenges for the Anglican Church in the future, and my role in it:
Examining Chaplains will want to explore with you the nature of the challenges currently facing Christianity and the Anglican Church. What role will the Church have in the future? What will be your role as a leader in mission and ministry?
Here are what I see important challenges for myself, the Church and the faith (it is not an exhaustive or exclusive list, there are plenty more!).
As I have said in the past exploring God’s call has got me looking to see Him in each experience I have. Writing this blog is certainly helping me in that regard as well, not least because I need something worthwhile to write about!
I knew from the start of exploring ordination that the church’s authorised discerners (I’m sure there is a better term for them!) like people to keep a journal. I enjoy doing that but it is quite different from the blog. The journal is often simply a stream of consciousness, or a collection of random thoughts and helpful or challenging quotes that I come across. As it has no audience but myself it never has to be coherent; a consequence being that thoughts are sometimes left hanging, never developed and remain unsubstantiated. Continue reading
Patiently waiting to move on
In this the second of a two part post I am looking at my experience of meeting with a Vocations Chaplain, having looked at the preceding stages in Part 1.
In the Anglican Diocese I find myself living within those exploring ordination are asked to first meet with their vicar before meeting with a Vocations Chaplain if the vicar feels there is a reason to explore.
As with the vicar and those met at later stages, the Vocations Chaplain (different titles are used for such people, even within a single diocese) is tasked with the job of discerning whether God is indeed calling a person towards ordination. This may take several meetings but if a calling is sensed the person is passed onto a Diocesan Director of Ordinands, or DDO for short. The process continues along similar lines before a person meets with a local bishop and a Bishops Advisory Panel (often simply known as a BAP). Continue reading
When a time comes that you, your personality and everything you say are under intense scrutiny do you show your true self or put a mask on and be someone else? If that person has the potential to alter the path you take in life do you try to be the person you think they will want to see, or do you trust that the right thing will happen when they see who you really are?
We’ve all been there, first dates, job interviews, important meetings, etc. We take extra care about the clothes we wear, we get there early, we are keen to impress. But in our nervousness to impress we can make mistakes and it can go horribly wrong. Continue reading
My sense of calling in my early Christian life was very much outward focused. They were the days where I had no ties and my commitments were few so I could respond to where I felt God called me to act. I used all the holidays my employers would give me to go on short-term missions where God acted in amazing and indisputable ways. That time was such an adrenaline rush that I wanted to leave secular employment and do it full-time.
Every so often since I would find myself thinking that I’d quite like to be a vicar but always assumed that every Christian thought this and so would dismiss it. Ordained ministry would crop up in conversations with friends but again I would dismiss it as being the same as a conversation about any job. Yet when several friends left for theological college I would feel a sense of envy.
Marriage brought a new purpose for knowing God’s calling. Our commitment to each other saw much prayer about what He wanted us to do individually and together. We both felt a very clear sense that I was called to train as a primary school teacher, a path I duly took. I got short-term jobs and was a regular supply teacher at several schools. School Inspectors and teachers commended me but a long-term teaching job elluded me. The apparent failure of my teaching career was devastating. It led to several years of wandering in the desert places, feeling disconnected from God and doubting whether I could ever hear Him speak.
To this day I don’t quite understand what happened but understand that it is human logic that says if God calls you to train as a primary school teacher He must be calling you to teach in a primary school. God has a grand plan for each of us that He only reveals on a step by step basis. His plans are not so easily read and as a person who likes to plan I’ve wrestled with that for years.
Then one day, this January, I was out for a run. Conversations came to mind that my wife and I had had leading up to Christmas where we vehemently declared that there was no way I would ever become ordained. There was no way my wife or I would put our children though another career change. But something was telling me I should at least explore such a path. As I ran on it was as though Moses had struck his staff into my stony spirit and the Holy Spirit came rushing in. Getting home I gingerly told my wife what happened and was amazed to find her agreeing that we should explore it.
Confirmations and powerful occurrences have happened to confirm that this exploration is God’s current calling for me. He has built up my confidence in my ability to hear Him speak by giving me visions and pictures. Sometimes personal, sometimes for others, they have often defied the human logic my mind thrives on but have encouragingly borne fruit.
I am only at the very beginning of exploring a calling that God may have patiently been whispering to me for over a decade. I’ve no idea where the path will end up, whether in ordained ministry or just with a stronger connecting with God. Like Justin Welby alluded to when talking about his calling, part of me feels as though I will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into ordained ministry, but if that is where God is calling me I am finally willing to do it.