So, have you ever felt a call, deep in your soul, to do something with your life that makes a difference in the world? Have you ever had that moment where you knew you were doing exactly what you were put on earth here to do? So, how did you discover that call, that place where as Frederick Buechner has said, your deep gladness meets the worlds deep needs? Was it trial and error? Probably some of that. But if you look back, do you see people who were encouragers, equippers who called forth gifts in you that you did not even know you had?
As I think about my calling as an ordained clergy, I could talk about the religion class I took my senior year of college that shifted my path away from the world of business. I could tell you about my grandmother who loved me in a way that gave me a taste of God’s unconditional love. I could reflect on my parents who gave me a faith by making church a part of our lives. I could speak of pastors who were wonderful role models of what it means to be a person of faith and to be real and human so that I did not think they were so set apart, I could never be that!
But when I think who most influenced my calling, I would have to say it was the whole church, the saints of Cleveland Ave. United Methodist Church. I came to this church as a pre-teen. It was a small church, and for a young person who was experiencing those awkward teenage years, they were definitely a community of love and forgiveness. And even more, they saw gifts in me and allowed me to lead. I taught Sunday school. I served in leadership roles. I was engaged in youth ministry and through that learned how to work as a part of a team. Interestingly enough, I don’t remember any one person saying to me, “Have you ever considered ordained ministry?” but in everything they did, they were saying you are a leader, and the church needs your leadership.
It took me awhile to put two and two together and realize that the combination of my gifts and my love of the church was indeed a calling by God to lead God’s people, the church, into its mission. But I finally got it, and when I shared this calling with the beloved people in my life, and those saints in the church, they simply said, “of course.” They had seen it all along.
Cleveland Ave. United Methodist Church closed it doors several years ago. The numbers had dwindled to the point where it did not make financial sense to keep trying to be church in the way they were, so they made the faithful and difficult decision to merge with Fairmount Ave. United Methodist Church. Today, many of those saints continue to be encouragers, equippers, and influencers. And I want to offer my own shout out this day, giving thanks for their influence in my life, and for them to know their ministry is living on in future generations because of people like me that they sent out into the world.
Listen to your life, my friends. Listen to the people in your life. There you may find your calling. And if God might indeed be calling you to lead God’s church, then go to explorecalling.orgto learn more about the United Methodist Church and the ways you can bring your gifts to the world through the church to make a difference.