At the end of the year I always spend a lot of time reflecting on the past year. This year it seems, more than any other year in memory, I have questioned and reflected on my calling in life. It is more than 20 years ago that I went through the process of ordination to church ministry. Ordination is a life-long calling. I took it very seriously [and still do] and did a lot of questioning, but it probably helped to be somewhat naïve and idealistic at the time. My main questions revolved around the fact that biblically, especially from an Anabaptist perspective, all members of the church are ordained to ministry. Why should I have a special intensive process culminating in a public ceremony and celebration when others did not? My reasoning at the time was that since my ordination was to public leadership ministry, my ordination process also needed to be public.
I have sometimes cursed this calling and wished I had a more invisible calling with less public pressure and expectation. This year had a few such times. Writing a book, and now blogging, has only increased that publicity and accompanying feelings of vulnerability. I thought blogging might be a way to test out things I was reading, experiencing, and learning but I found out that cyberspace is not necessarily a safe place. Friends who do not have the calling I do can say whatever they want to say without fear of misunderstanding or reprisal, but I feel like I have to be more careful than in the classroom. I have 10,000 bosses I am responsible to and a faceless public beyond that [As a church leader we sometimes said we had 200 bosses; now at the college we have more than 70 churches multiplied by 200 gives me at least 10,000 bosses!]
This year’s experiment was an attempt to blog more regularly on a greater variety of topics [see previous post]. I reached my goal of 52 posts [an average of one a week]. Now, I’m not so sure I want to continue. My energy might be better used with the people who I interact with in real time and place. Blogging does keep me in touch with a few people and I appreciate the sharing of ideas, and on occasion it has connected me with people I have never met in person. Like Jeremiah, my faith is like fire in my bones and I can’t keep it inside. Blogging gives me the opportunity to get it out, to write creatively and to speak on issues that are not part of a curriculum, but sometimes I feel pressure to conform to my nebulous crowd of bosses. If I can’t be free and genuine, why bother? Like Elijah, I often feel like crawling into a cave after an intensive public ministry experience like preaching, or in this case blogging.
My end of the year retreat day is coming up. I’ll see what the cloister does for my perspective.