God's Word for today

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Thoughts on the next phase of ministry at SMMS

It's often been said (by me included) that if you are too busy to blog, you are indeed far too busy! Certainly this has been my experience of late, what with packing up to leave Joburg after about a month's break with my family, and trying to settle into my new flat at the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary in Pietermaritzburg where I will be spending the next two (maybe three?) years.

And the last four days has been spent unpacking bozes, drilling holes, unpacking boxes, setting up the hi-fi, unpacking boxes, mounting my certificates, unpacking bozes, rigging up a shower, unpacking boxes ... so as you can imagine, I am absolutely "gat-vol" of unpacking boxes! So I believe that my early night last night was well-earned!

But this morning I was wide awake just before 4 am, having just had a dream about me giving the opening address to my fellow seminarians at SMMS, and with a burning desire to get those thoughts down on computer. The resultant sermon (which is still in very raw form, and may or may not be preached) can be found here for those who want some insight into my currently scrambled state of mind as a new seminarian!

Having got that out of my system, I decided to catch up on some blogs that I hadn't read in a while, and found this interesting post on UK local preacher Fat Prophet's blog entitled "Young and looking for a job?" and, like in my dream, he raises the question of whether the ministry is a calling or a career. While I have in the past lamented the fact that young people in the MCSA are not encouraged nearly often enough to consider whether God may be calling them to full-time ministry - reflected in the fact that the average candidate for ministry currently is middle-aged - I have also experienced the other side of the coin where too many ministers see the ministry as merely a job.

I suppose it's easy for me to talk - I gave up a lucrative career in finance to follow what I believe to be God's leading into the ministry - a "career" not known for massive earnings (unless you're the senior pastor of an independent mega-church). The fact that I have been able to do this without an ounce of regret is evidence (for me at least) of God's call. I am also thankful to God that I have never experienced what it is like to be unemployed - even when I left the corporate world four years ago to start up my own consultancy, I may have experienced diminished earnings at first but was always able to put food on my table and pay the bills. So I don't know how unemployment feels, and have no concept of the resultant desperation. But a move into the ministry should not be seen as a solution.

If a minister is in ministry because they couldn't make it anywhere else, that is the worst possible reason one could possibly have for becoming a minister. Wanting the "status" of being a minister is probably just as bad. The combination of the two can (and does) lead to all kinds of abuses (financial, sexual, power) which the Church and society at large can well do without.

1 comment:

Fat Prophet said...

Thanks for the mention Steve - some good stuff in this post and lot's of food for thought.
I have been unemployed in the past for about eighteen months but would certainly not have thought of going into the ministry unless of course I believed God was calling me.
I note your comment about the ministry not being very well paid but there is the security that goes with the 'job' - I have never heard of a minister being dismissed and there is little chance of being out of work when we have a desperate shortage of ministers in this country.