It was on March 7, 2004 that Pullen Memorial Baptist Church ordained me to the Gospel Ministry - that's 9 years ago. I went back and read the sermon that was preached that day and the charge that was given to me. It was a great day - we sang my favorite hymns: "Joyful, Joyful," "Be Thou My Vision," and "Let All Things Now Living." My friend and pastor preached a sermon entitled "The Outrageous Optimism of Ordination." My other friend and pastor gave me the charge - told me to "not just share those places of healing and light and wholeness with those to whom you will minister. Have the courage to offer truth and hope and life as you risk sharing with others your own darkness and brokenness and woundedness. If you dare to do so, your life and ministry will be a source of life and light for others...stay on the journey. Keep building community with those who are different from you. Hold to your particular faith story tradition and continue to position yourself along its edge. It is this kind of community building and belonging that you are called to as one ordained by the church."
I hope I have lived up to the charge...I know I'm not the same person I was nine years ago. As the Mister likes to say, "My youthful optimism has been replaced by experience." And, that's a good thing.
Anyway, I thought it might be fun to post nine things I've learned in nine years of ordained ministry.
1) Everybody is not going to like you. Some will enthusiastically dislike you. This is ok.
2) Church is not the most important thing in your parishioner's lives. Deal with it.
3) Your spouse does not want to talk about church stuff 24/7...and neither does your dog. So, get a hobby.
4) Sometimes your presence means more than any words...so don't worry about the words.
5) When in doubt, keep your mouth shut for 24 hours. Most things can wait 24 hours.
6) Expect to be disappointed every day. Expect to be fulfilled every day.
7) Take your vacation time - all of it. You do not qualify as a "martyr" by working non-stop, but you do qualify as "stupid."
8) Pray. A lot.
9) Never underestimate the Holy Spirit's ability to outsmart you and astonish you.