A story was shared at Annual Conference last night about a farmer who felt a call from God to be ordained in the UMC. It was reported that this farmer turned minister felt a that a burden had been lifted from his shoulders upon ordination.
I heard that story and began to get chills. Not because of the ordained part, but because I can connect (and I am sure you can as well) to the idea than when we are able to "do" that which gives us purpose we become liberated. When we are able to live out our call, whatever it may be, we become free from the anxiety of "what do I want to be when I grow up" and the pressure to "live a meaningful life". When we are able to do what we are called to do, we have a burden lifted from us. If you find you are chronically unhappy with your work, I wonder if your work is what your call is?
I have the privilege of being one of the people in the world who gets to do what I feel I am called to do. I get to do work that gives meaning a purpose to my life and I get to help those around me do the same. Upon ordination, I anticipation a burden to be lifted from my shoulders as I am liberated to do work that connects me to a greater whole.
At the same time...
Ordination is a very humbling and heavy mantel.
By being ordained I am joining in a long tradition of which I get the honor of carrying for a period of time. I am given the permission by the laity to help lead a congregation of which people before me helped create and nurture. I feel I am being handed the keys to a beloved Gran Torino and asked to be careful with it.
I feel a heavy burden of being an ordained elder in the UMC being placed upon me today.
This is the paradox of the call on our lives. We are liberated and set free to do and be that which we are called to be, yet at the same time we become keenly aware of the responsibilities that come with the privilege of being able to be one who is able to do work that feeds the deepest part of oneself and helps neighbors.
If you love what you do and do what you love, count your lucky stars you are able to do it. Few have that chance to live our the call on their lives. You are able to live into a call on your life that gives you meaning and purpose and direction. At the same time may you come to know the great responsibility that comes with this gift of living our our call.
So today, the paradox of the call begins for me.