Today was another discernment committee meeting. I was late, not auspicious.
Delayed by work on an already frustrating day is not the best way to be centered and have a good conversation. But it seemed to be that sort of day for the group as a whole. Two members of the committee were similarly late. One didn’t make it at all; one had a migraine and had forgotten.
So add to the mix that I didn’t say most of what was heavily on my mind, and when asked a question I gave an answer which didn’t satisfy the asker. The question was what do I see as the focus of my diaconal ministry. I thought I gave an answer, and I could see that it didn’t sit well with at least two of the committee members. I tried again. Somehow I seemed to be not speaking in a way that made sense. Or maybe I just wasn’t answering the question I thought she’d asked. I even asked if I was not answering the question and she replied no I wasn’t. EEEK!
The thing is, this has been an ongoing problem in this process, but it’s not normal for me. If anything people find me articulate, so how is this tongue-tied-ness such a pervasive part of this journey?
So, here are the things I wished I’d said today that I didn’t:
- I do not see my diaconal ministry as being tied to a single organization or even a single role. I see my diaconal ministry as tied to a common purpose and set of gifts which I can share. These gifts are knowledge, faith, administration and help. I have a God-given (I believe) ability to be a sounding board, determine options, organize, and coordinate. I believe that all people who wish to serve the Lord should serve, and I’m pretty good and helping them find ways to do so which play to their strengths and gifts. I am good at looking at a situation from both the “big picture” and the minute detail. I am often the translator between the technically focused and the layman and I bring these abilities to bear when I teach. Through Christian education, both formal and informal, our fellowship with humanity evolves. So when you ask me what I see as the focus of my ministry, my answer is I see my focus as helping others to find their ministry.
- Initially one aspect of helping others to serve which stood out to me was removing the barriers of food and housing insecurity so that they can shine is a piece of that work. I believe that everyone who wishes to serve should serve, and that providing opportunities to have their lower-order needs met to facilitate that is imperative. As I was often fond of saying in my classroom, it’s hard to study physics when your belly is growling. God doesn’t want us leaving brothers and sisters to suffer as it can distract them from their gifts and make them easy prey for evil. I will gladly volunteer my time in support of these ministries, including many of the activities I already support as a worker bee. One in particular, Dove / Homeward Bound, has stood out in need of a sounding board. As such I have tried to attend meetings and take an active role. Thus far, my secular work life has not been conducive to attending many meetings, but I am trying to work that out. Other volunteer efforts, such as Meals-on-wheels, and Good Samaritan Inn, have been of the sort where the need is for volunteering and pitching in as needed. They already have organizers what they need is workers. I also, prayerfully share their need for volunteers with others and have been successful at rallying numbers to their causes.
- I also spoke with you in the past about my strong connection with the LGBT community, and communities of those suffering from long term illness such as cancer, aids, lupus, heart conditions. People who feel left out, marginalized and as if God can have no purpose which includes them. I sometimes feel that pain as a physical wound and I know that God does want them to feel included. With this group, knowledge, faith, and help to see the possibilities of this life. To help them know that God’s plan is for them and that they have a valuable treasure to share by being who they were made to be. Sometimes simply showing up and showing love is the need. Sometimes it’s fellowship and hospitality.
- So if you are looking for a mission statement of sorts here goes: Equip people to fulfill God’s plan for them. I have a feeling that is going to take many forms: teaching, listening, organizing, playing devil’s advocate, praying and providing for basic needs.
Maybe this is close to what I said, or maybe the miscommunication is that she and I don’t define ministry in the same way. I think she wanted me to name a cause like AIDS which was more easily boxed for shipping. Maybe I’m not narrowing my focus enough. I guess I just feel that the focus will vary with time. I also feel like I am multifaceted and would be unsettled choosing only one. I could have said teaching, and indeed I am a teacher. It would not have been a lie, but it would not have been the truth either and that is perhaps the source of my tongue-tied-ness. Because my focus is broader.
or perhaps it’s lacking focus at all.
Pray for me, would ya?