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I Put My Name On A Call List Today
Reflections By A Novice Pastor

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

Number 22

I put my name on a call list today.
 
I really didn't want to, you see. It's only my first church and I've only been here not even a couple of years.
I put my name on a call list today.

I had high hopes of joy and gladness; of fulfillment and sharing the love of Christ. But somehow that never quite happened. Instead, all I feel now is an empty sorrow of failure to the church and unfaithfulness to Christ.
I put my name on a call list today.
 
When I was ordained I took the solemn vow of ordination. I regarded them higher than any other vow I had ever taken in my life. I considered that vow to be even more important than my wedding vows because these were between me, God, and His church. These vows are the driving force of my life's calling as God's called servant to minister as He calls me to feed His people.
I put my name on a call list today.
 
The call is supposedly divine. Today, I feel as if I cheated God. I didn't want to put my name on the call list. I wanted God to do it for me. I didn't want to be unfaithful to God. Everything I've learned, the core of my being, the essence of my ordination was to honor the divinity of God's call. Somehow I don't feel right because...
I put my name on a call list today.
 
Of course, the decision was hard. At first I resisted the encouragement of my mentors, my family, my professors, my friends, my bishops, and my theologically trained instincts. I resisted because I felt a commitment to God and His Church. Strangely, sometimes I wondered if it was me--not them--who was resisting God. Sometimes I wondered if it was me--not them--who didn't understand God's divine call. Now I really don't know what to think of the divine call...and what it means...and whether I made the right decision...or whether what I did today was an act of faithfulness or failure, integrity or impatience.
I put my name on a call list today.
 
No one can know the pain, the disappointment, the loss. I was going to be the perfect pastor. I would shepherd them, teach them, support them, minister to them. I would give them the very best of what God had given me to share with them. They were going to be the people that God gave me and I'd do my very best for the rest of my life. But now, after just a couple years...
I put my name on a call list today.
 
I loved the people...though they didn't always love me. I wanted to stay...even though I may not be paid again next month. Forced to leave for material reasons. How ungodly for God's chosen minister! The support of my family seemed so shallow as I tried harder and harder to please God's people. I tried harder in the church...but nothing happened. I preached my best, taught my best, studied my best, ministered my best and prayed my best. Nothing seemed to work. That's a reason why...
I put my name on a call list today.
 
I was bewildered by the unjustified attacks. I was taken aback at the extreme insensitivity of those whom I thought trusted me. I was betrayed by those who seemed so friendly...at least at first. I was caught off guard by surprises from staff, leaders and people I'd hardly met. I listened and learned.
 
The more I learned, the harder I tried, but the more desperate things got. I even thought maybe I shouldn't be in the ministry. That's what several people told me--publicly. They were people I thought I could trust, people whom God would use to lift God's church with me. Now there is no trust, just pain. But I was willing to forgive and to move on. But that was not enough. NOTHING was enough. God, don't you hear my prayers? God, don't You know--don't You care--that...
I put my name on a call list today.
 
Why is the church so cruel? Why is the Bride of Christ so inhumane, so indecent, so sinister and sometimes so evil? Didn't I promise to give my life to Christ's church? I never did anything wrong! Why did I deserve this! I don't want to leave the ministry. I don't want to leave this church. And I wonder whether I will find fulfillment and happiness in my next church.
 

I don't want to have to uproot my family, disappoint my spouse and my children. I don't want to disappoint those who had supported me. I don't want to disappoint God. I don't want to disappoint myself. Oh my gosh, look what I did. Can I ever forgive myself? Will the burden of failure, pain, loneliness and confusion ever be lifted? I may never know because...
                                                      I put my name on a call list today.

 
Where will I go? How long will it take to get a call? How will I know whether to accept or reject it? Will my gifts and abilities be suited for the new church? How will I face the many changes ahead? How will the congregation face the changes ahead? How will my family deal with the new situation? So many questions, so few answers, and so much uncertainty. God, please help me because...
I put my name on a call list today.
 
Lord, I put my name on a call list today.
Help me to see that Your divine calling to me is greater than my plans, greater than my imagination, greater than anything my congregation has done or not done, greater than any thing, any event, any power in all creation. Indeed, if it were any less, would it be--could it be--Divine?
 
Lord, I put my name on a call list today.
Help me let go. Help me to grieve and sorrow for just a time. Then give me the confidence of Your Spirit and Your gracious strength in my weakness. May You increase that I may decrease.
 
Lord, it was really You who put my name on a call list today.
It was Your action to be the beginning of a new, more powerful ministry in me to Your glory. It was Your way strengthen Your church. It was Your way to strengthen me. Lord, through all I do, may Your will be done.

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to
prosper you and not to harm you., plans to give you a
hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Thomas F. Fischer

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:03:22 PM