so here we go. Actually, I took a walk on the beach a little while ago and the wind off the Sound blew a lot of my snark away, but when I got home and discovered a delicious email from one of my very favorite seminarians, I was moved to write out some of the thoughts her note inspired. In fact, I think I'll anonymize my reply to her and put it here.
OMG, this is just what I needed to hear today! You are so right on----this is what we need, not futzing around about little stuff. Heck, I might even be tempted to put (the essay she sent me) in my packet, were I going to the RSCC or MFC or some search committee anytime soon. At least put in the essence of it, if you can, and share it with your RSCC mentor if that person isn't too uptight and scary. You are so right on, sweetie, and your passion is clear-headed and infectious.
I've had it up to here (gestures toward sky) with petty chat dialogues and fussing about details of growth or non-growth. Passion is what grows us! Passion is what infuses us with love and gives us a bloom that no amount of education can stifle. What has gotten me feeling snarky today is how people place huge value on competitive kinds of things----grades at the MFC and candidacy for certain pulpits come to mind.
That's not what is important! Of course, it's important to do our best, but when we are second-best, runners-up despite our strongest efforts, we are not worth less than those who got 1's or a big church.
There's been chat on the part-timers list about feeling second-class because we work less than fulltime and it's MFC season once again, so there's some posting about that here and there. I want to tell them that it's not important! Ministry, rubber on the road, pedal to the metal, that's what's important and it won't matter in a few years who got what. What will matter is what you and I do to show our love for our ministry-ees and getting in there and working our tails off with them. That's what will make you say "jeez, they pay me to do this! I can hardly believe it!"
So there you have it---I am snarked about the competitiveness that crops up this time of year, even though I am thrilled for the ministry candidates who have gotten the go ahead from RSCC or MFC and excited to know who will be installed where, once the dust has settled. I am also distressed by the ministries I see ending sadly or being put on hold because of the heavy demands of this vocation.
I am thrilled to be a part-time minister in paradise, serving people who love me and appreciate me. I am no longer miffed because I got a 2 from the MFC many years ago; it quit mattering after the first few weeks. And I am glad to have been runner-up in a few instances of looking for a job; it quit mattering once I realized that where I am is where I am supposed to be.
I hope for that outcome for all those who are hoping to get a call from a congregation, hoping to hear encouragement from the Ministerial Fellowship Committee or RSCC. It's hard when it doesn't come out the way you hope, but you'll survive and even find yourself happier than you might have been.
And, by the way, those of you newish ministers who sit around at retreats and talk to other newish ministers about how your congregation just doesn't "get" ministry and how you're going to have to whip them into shape-----good luck with that. It tends not to work that way; you have more to learn than they do. Arrogance is not an effective tool for ministry.