Do you have a call?

How does one discern a call?

   One of the toughest challenges for me in following this path has been the inner conflict and turmoil in first recognizing I was being called to ministry, and then being willing to answer that call. How does one separate a passing fancy from a real call? 
   In the Episcopal Church there is a process for ordination that a person must work their way through. It is not a gauntlet, although it can seem that way at times! The process is structured to ensure that each person carefully considers the depth of their call and their commitment to following that call through whatever situation they encounter. While each Diocese has it's own process, they generally follow similar steps since the requirements are determined by Church law (Canon Law).
   The start of this process in my diocese is a meeting called "Day of Discovery", open to any church member who may be interested in exploring the three ordained ministries of the Church: Bishop, Priest, and Deacon. Participants are led through an explanation of these ministries and study each order's ordination vows.
   The "Day of Discovery" is NOT in any way a sales campaign to get people to sign up. For me I liked the way it was structured as an informational meeting (with some prayer, of course!) that gives a general overview of how the three orders work together to serve needs of God's people. Some who attended were just interested in understanding the differences in ministries. There was no future commitment involved, so I felt like I could participate without worrying about what others might think or being pressured into something I didn't want. Of the dozen people who attended the meeting that day, only two of us eventually proceeded on!
   At the end of the meeting those who were interested in further pursuing this idea of a "call" were given a booklet of daily reflections and questions. This is not a test that you turn back in, but a guide for your own use to explore over the course of a month the type of ministry that might appeal to you.
   The length of your "Discovery" process is up to you. Personally, I was very reluctant to follow this path. It is easy to be overwhelmed with feelings of unworthiness, and the idea that a person in ordained ministry should somehow be a "saintly" person. How could God be calling a person like myself with a past train-wreck of a life? The idea seemed ludicrous. It took me a long time to realize that God calls the broken because these are the people who already recognize their human frailty and God's infinite love for each of us.
   Doubtful of my call, I found the book "Listening Hearts" by Suzanne G. Farnham and Jospeph P. Gill (see Recommended Books) to be extremely useful in the inner exploration of this call. We tend to see our personal history as a uniform procession from point A to point Z, but this book helps you take the building blocks of your life's story and re-arrange them into a view from God's perspective.
   God sees the world, and people, differently than we see each other. Living in the Kingdom means changing your perspective to see the world through God's eyes. Blessings on your journey!!

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