Sunday, September 2, 2007

Candidating Conundrums

The mind and heart of a young man fresh out of seminary who is candidating for a position of ministry in a local church can be a paradoxical quagmire of hopes and doubts. On the one hand, one understands the absolute and consummate necessity for churches to be deliberate, patient, methodical, and thorough in their investigation of a ministerial candidate. The strengths and weaknesses of a man's character will greatly affect the flock of Christ in which He is charged to lead, both for good and for ill. I have personally seen how various churches with which I've been associated over the years have paid dearly for poor choices with regard to the character and leadership qualities in the men they called as pastor(s). I have also seen the great and immense blessing that it can be to a church when their pastor is a man of strong and unshakable character, faith, and conviction, a passionate lover of people who nevertheless fears and loves God's approval even more. Still, the process of waiting, watching, and praying is challenging. There's always that part of you that wants to "get on with it" so-to-speak, as if, having paid my dues in seminary, God now "owes" me a position in short order. Yet, I'm reminded by the wise words of one particular seminary prof who told us that ministry is all about "downward mobility". God's timetable and ways with His ministers are not those of the "professional" world in which one graduates from grad school, gets the first job/big break, and then proceeds to begin working His way up the ministerial career ladder. Ministry is a calling, and the Lord is the sovereign and wise king and Master Shepherd, not a corporate CEO. I and my family are learning the lessons of contentment and patience at this time in new and fresh ways as we seek to serve the Lord here in our current context even while we wait for Him to open the doors of ministry/service in a more direct way within a local congregation. One particular church in Iowa appears to be a promising and potential field for ministry, but there is also a lot of uncertainty and just as many questions at this point as there are answers. They seem to really like us (at least the elders) and we personally resonate with and feel a kindred spirit with them also. Yet what should I make of all of this at the point where the "rubber meets the road"? Do we seek to broaden the scope of our search or do we wait and focus our efforts primarily on this particular church? Given the overall positive and highly encouraging interactions with the session and brethren there, is the response of faith on my part to simply wait and trust the Lord to overcome any potential remaining barriers/concerns (in due time) to my ministering there? Am I truly trusting God if I try to begin candidating afresh with other churches while waiting to see what will come of the opportunity at the church in Iowa? I'm not expecting an audible answer from the sky, but I know that my God is a giver of wisdom to those who ask in faith(James 1:2-8). For any who read this, I would greatly appreciate your prayers along with me and my family for His wisdom and clear leading (as well as the gift/grace of great patience and contentment should our wait need to continue on for a significantly longer period of time). Moses spent 40 years in Midian before His call to "ministry" among the people of God in Egypt, and while I do not think myself better or more worthy than he, I still would like the interval for me to be much less. If my period of preparation and waiting needs to be extensive, I'd very much like to know more of why and how the Lord is working through our wait for our good and His glory.

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