I can still picture the conference room at the monastery outside of Twin Falls, Idaho. I was an inquirer in the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordination process, and was meeting with my Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM). This annual consultation was taking longer than I thought it would. I was asked about my sense of call, and I shared some of the diverse ministry experiences I’d had over the years and the different things I enjoyed about them all.
The chair of the CPM then leaned in closer to me and said, “So…what I hear you saying is that you don’t have a call.”
“No, I have a pretty clear sense of call to ministry – I’m just trying to figure out what that looks like for me.”
CPM Chair: “So…you don’t really have a call then, right?”
As you can imagine, it was a frustrating conversation. I knew colleagues in seminary whose sense of call was very clear: “I want to be an associate pastor for two years, then I’ll be a solo pastor at a small to medi- um sized church for 4–6 years, and then I’ll become head of staff at a medium to large sized church).”
But that wasn’t me. And I was okay with that. I’d tried camping ministry, youth ministry, college ministry and clinical pastoral education, and I loved all of it. I didn’t see that as a problem, as this other pastor clearly did.
Since seminary, I’ve served three churches, primarily doing youth ministry. After some frustrating and difficult experiences with a couple churches, and feeling like I really needed a break from parish ministry, I found myself doing pulpit supply and trying to figure out what was next.
But here’s the thing: I’ve always had other interests in addition to ministry. I’m not saying that makes me unique, but I do know some pastors who are so fo- cused on their churches and ministries, they often forget to practice some good self-care and spend time doing things they love.
About three years ago, I started drawing again. I used to love to draw as a kid, and I began to reconnect with that interest. I took some online classes, received a self-care grant from the Presbytery of Chicago and bought a lot of art supplies, and began finding ways to incorporate art into my ministry.
While I’ve been trying to figure out what’s next for me, part of that has includ- ed starting a new business: Illustrated Children’s Moments. I’m providing original artwork for pastors and Christian educators to use for their children’s moments/sermons during worship. And I think it is going to be growing into a lot more than just that.
This is still very much in the beginning stages, but it feels like something that might be close to the sweet spot for me and call. I love to draw and be creative, I have skills in putting together thoughtful ways for churches to use the materials, and I get to use my web and social media skills as well.
Had I not spent time outside of my ministry responsibilities cultivating this love of drawing, I don’t know what I’d be doing right now. I’m sure I would have found something, but I find it to be more than just a coincidence that God is deciding to use something in my life now that was giving me joy and energy and creativity during a time when my last call was stressful and frustrating.
If nothing else, I hope this will be a reminder to everyone to be sure and spend some time taking care of yourself and leaving room and space and time in your life for the things that give you life and energy – because you never know how you may end up using them.
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