Shepherd’s Care: The Call and Humanity

Our exploration of personal and congregational values is one way of showing that God uses our humanity to communicate His call upon our lives.  As Parker Palmer has put it, God takes our lives seriously; so must we.

Every aspect of our humanity can be a window through which God can shine an illuminating light upon our vocation:  gender, personality, location, religious tradition, marital status, age-stage in life, etc.  All these things (and more) help us to discern God’s will for our life and ministry.

Moreover, keeping our call related to our humanity helps us prevent a romanticizing of our calling or making it so abstract that it may appear inspiring, but it’s simply too vague to know what God is actually trying to say.  Failing to include our humanity in the discernment of our calling can open the door to endless second-guessing, and to comparing our ministry with someone else’s, resulting in a restlessness which believes we should be somewhere else doing something else.

Charlie Shedd put it in perspective for me years ago in his book, Time for All Things: “I am where I should be.  I have been brought to this place, at this time,for this work.”

It’s this perspective which keeps our ministry connected to the specific time and place where we find ourselves.  It keeps the sense of “today” in our calling, rather than having to believe God’s will is in “tomorrow” (or even worse) in “yesterday.”

When we understand the humanity of our calling, our next step is to unpack our bags (literally and figuratively) and serve where we are.  There’s more than enough ministry to be done right where we are.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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