Saturday, June 17, 2023

How I Survived Ministry: Knowing and Leveraging Gifts

My seasons in ordained ministry mirrored the invitations and challenges of aging. The questions of my second- half of life are related to spiritual depth and discovering interconnections within Scripture, and faithful action. How can I discover joy? A couple of experiences illustrate the dynamics of my second-half of ministry and life. (1) 

At the age 48, I enrolled in a three year Spiritual Direction Institute of the Cenacle. Classes, having a spiritual director, and the practicum, supervision, and project all took place near my Houston home, and most of the meetings were on my off day. The second year, which examined the lives of the Saints, was the most meaningful for me. It was an immersion in the witness of the Christian monastics and mystics. Having a Spiritual Director throughout the program was a source of wisdom, discernment and spiritual clarity. I can't imagine how I offered pastoral ministry for all of those years without it! (2)

As apart of the program, I began blogging, initially to offer support and resources for clergy. I discovered a hidden gift! I wrote mostly on trends in ministry and reflections on Scripture. (3) Vociferous reading and writing combined to form a life-giving spiritual discipline. When I employed my strengths, instead of merely making weaknesses less glaring, I found joy- and a new, deeper engagement with life and ministry.

If the first half of ministry is about doing and achieving, its second half can be a time of greater reflection and discernment. Whereas the first half of ministry concerns itself with accomplishing institutional goals, the second half adds another component, that is, what is the best course of action and why. 

Questions to Consider
  1. What brings me true joy?
  2. What are my gifts, here and now? 
  3. How may those gifts inform my work?
  4. How are those gifts realized in my work?
(1) Roughly the decade beginning at 50 yrs.
(2) The three year program graduated its last cohort several years ago and the retreat campus was destroyed in 2017, due to Hurricane Harvey. 
(3) Please Understand Me, David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, 1984. Using the Meyers-Briggs Inventory and based on Jung's theory of types,  identifies "Author" as my type. See also Now Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham and Don Clifton, 2001. I have also used both volumes for couples in marriage preparation and clergy groups.

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