Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A PERSONAL MILESTONE (random musings)

Today is the 25th anniversary of my ordination to the ministry.

Granted, it's not the stuff of ticker-tape parades or silver anniversary cakes. Indeed, this thing called "ordination" is extremely humbling and very personal. There was a council consisting of pastors and church leaders. There was a ceremony a couple of weeks later. And as my pastor told me at the time, they did not ordain me; rather, God had already ordained me and they were just agreeing with His decision. Any ministry success is all His doing. And when I've blown it...oh boy.... Why someone came up with the description "reverend" is beyond me. Waaayyy beyond me. So why commemorate the date at all?

I guess because it is so personal, so significant, and has been responsible for a lot the directions I've bounced over the last quarter century, it's only natural to look back. When I pulled out some old pictures of the ordination service and subsequent churches, I can't believe I used to be that young. And that skinny. And with that much hair. I had dreams and plans and a solid sense of what I wanted to do and be as this newly ordained servant of God. And in tiny print at the bottom of the screen of my imagination were the words, "The dreams and plans of Tim may not neccesarily be those of the Creator of the universe."

So where have I been the last 25 years? I've been an associate minister in southern California. I've been a senior pastor in two churches in Colorado. I was promoted to children's ministry in Oregon (but not as staff, which you'll see as you keep reading). I still teach regularly, preach occaisionally, do a wedding or funeral or two. And there have also been the half-dozen "tent making" jobs I've had either between or during ministries ("tent making" referring to the Apostle Paul, who supported himself in the ministry by making tents).

I honestly can say that I know less than I did 25 years ago. Oh, I'm probably even more dogmatic on a lot of matters of faith and practice, but I'm more picky about the hills I climb and the battles I fight. I realize that I don't have all the answers to every single theological, sociological, political issue facing the church today. Most of my opinions are well researched and carefully thought out, but they are still my opinions. After all these years, I found I could be (gulp) mistaken on some things.

As to the future...I honestly don't know. Of the two paid positions I have at the church, neither is what is called "vocational ministry." The thing I consider my main ministry...children's ministry (not counting the daycare center where I work) strictly an appointed volunteer work. Don't get me wrong...I love everything I do (especially children's ministry) and I'm grateful to "minister" in that way. But I have to be totally honest: what I dreamed and envisioned as the elders laid hands on me back in 1983 bears little resemblance to what I am experiencing now.

So am I depressed? No. Maybe a tad melencholy, but any kind of retrospect will produce that. I know what I know what I know, and that is I have an awesome and amazing God Who loves me with an everlasting love and has an intricate plan for my life that transcends anything I could ever imagine. I can wish the road had been different, but I am so incredibly grateful about Who I traveled it with.

Here's to the next 25 years of "ordained" ministry, whatever form it takes.

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