by Dr. James R. Brooks, Lead Minister
One score and five years ago, the church set me aside through ordination for full time Christian ministry. Four congregations, our church region of Indiana and the Kentucky region plus a seminary weighed in on the decision. I suspect God’s vote was the determining factor.
The experience of ordained ministry will be a source of poignant pondering during my sabbatical. I am thankful for the opportunity. As I prepare for my pilgrimage, I would like to share a few initial reflections.
Ordained Ministers are not self-made. They are self-starters. We are wise to first recall that God calls them to the task. God provides family, friends, mentors, colleagues, congregations to encourage and support clergy. My experience bears this to be true. I am humbled and blessed to recall the names of those who have made my journey possible.
Ordained ministry is a grand opportunity to experience profound grace. As a young preacher, it was easier to spout fire and rigid proclamations. As ministry polishes the lump of coal I am, I find more passion to share the radical grace of Jesus’ love. The more I read the Bible, the more I see God work in people’s lives, the more I experience the power of a congregation’s ministry especially as sometime we do our best work by accident or in spite of our brokenness or in response to brokenness… the more confident I am in the power of grace to transform and reconcile us.
Ordained ministry is a journey of having been discovered and continued self-discovery. A rigorous discernment process precedes ordination. Post-ordination, clergy are expected to continue the process of self-discovery. Thus far, it has been a somewhat painful joy to discover my particular gifts and graces for ministry. I cherish the magical moments when my sharing them is helpful.
Sensing I am at the mid-point of my full-time service as an ordained minister, I cherish the opportunity for sabbatical, to renew my soul, to reflect upon God’s call in my life, and to retool for continued service to God and to church. Thank you for being the Christian community where I have served nearly 70% of my ordained ministry. Peace!