Man of the Cloth, Part 1

So I’m thinking about going to seminary—or, at least, taking some courses to whet the ol’ whistle, as it were. No—more accurately: I’m thinking/praying about going into ministry more formally—you know, maybe become a “man of the cloth”—and seminary is one possible step in this direction.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now; it’s one of the reasons, I think, that I’ve been a less than consistent blogger of late.  Contrary to what readers of The Eagle & Child might think, I don’t blog about everything that comes to mind.  Sometimes I hold my cards very close to my chest, and if it’s a very big hand, it tends to affect my interaction with the rest of the world.  I become introspective, quieter; I tend to want to roam aimlessly, thinking things over repeatedly, though that’s not so easy to do when I’ve got a family that needs me.

I suppose this might not come as a surprise to most of you.  Much of what I write here is theological in nature (I should maybe check my facts first), and I read theological books in my spare time—I guess that makes theology a hobby.  I’ve thought for a couple of years now that seminary would be something up my alley, but until recently I couldn’t really justify it outside of doing it simply for my own amusement, and seminary would be an unjustifiably expensive form of amusement.  But my reasons seem to be changing with this man-of-the-cloth business.  Seminary seems to be one of the sensible things to do in this respect—it’s the path towards ordination—but that may not be my road.   We shall see.

A couple of months ago, after spending a weekend with our church’s youth at some event, something in me shifted.  I didn’t sense that it had anything to do with the youth per se, but it was definitely connected to church.  I can’t describe the shift to you, but I can picture the moment it happened, or started to happen, in my mind’s eye.  I kept that hand hidden as well, told nobody about the change I felt.

Here’s where it gets weird: not long after my return, two people asked, unprompted by me, if I had ever considered “going into ministry”, or something along those lines, maybe about “being a pastor”—I can’t remember what the exact phrasing was.  One of these people was Dixie.  I had said nothing to her about the shift I felt—she brought it up, as I say, out of the blue. The other person that mentioned this to me said that they had been praying for me specifically about this for some time, but hadn’t sensed any movement or prodding in this direction, but he, too, sensed something different after that weekend, which is why he brought it up.

This might be getting to wacky for some of you; it may not sound like classic Eagle & Child material.  But what am I supposed to do with the winds of change seemingly blowing (at the very least in my cobwebbed skull) and two people broaching the subject without knowing what has been going on?  It can’t be ignored.  At least, I can’t ignore it.

Here’s the story of my life in terms of what I “do”: I’m afraid to “name” things.  I am reluctant to say This is what I am doing or This is what I plan to do or This is what I want to be in any kind of decisive manner. As an example, Johanna asked me in January (or so) to do her wedding photography.  I mentioned it to noone but Dixie for several weeks, if not months, after I was asked.  My concerns: What if I misunderstood her request?  What if she changed her mind?  What if so-and-so laughs at the idea when I tell them? Insecurity is certainly a part of my silence.  But I’m also silent about these things, I think, because I sense that it’s not time to mention them.  It certainly wouldn’t have mattered if I had told people about the wedding photography, but with other things—bigger picture things—it sometimes feels like it isn’t time, as if the thought, the idea, the plans aren’t ready to be born yet.  They are ready, it seems, when someone else names them for me, or perhaps to me.

Things tend to fall in place for me, and that seems to have been the right way for me to make choices in life so far.  I sometimes get a sense of something, but I hang on to it, I keep it secret (keep it safe!) and ponder it, and wait to see what comes of it.  Eventually someone will come along and offer me this or tell me that, and the pieces of that original “sense” begin to fall into place.  Someone names the Thing, and then I feel like I can take the next step in its direction.  I felt like the sense I had that weekend with the youth was named for me by these two people—I had sensed it, and they named the Thing.

I’m not looking for advice or opinions.  Most of you don’t know me outside of the words I write here, so you probably wouldn’t be in a position to offer either of those.  Those of you who do know me, the comments may not be the place for that sort of thing (you can email me by clicking above), though I’ll leave them open.  Prayer, however, is a good thing whether you know me or not.

Part of me feels like it’s premature to mention this on my blog, but I’m posting this as a release.  This is what’s going on in my life—our lives—right now and I’ve become suspicious that it’s causing a blockage in terms of writing and thinking and creativity.  It’s what occupies me these days, but I haven’t been able to post about it here—didn’t feel it was time.  Maybe it still isn’t time, but releasing it may get my mental juices flowing, which would be beneficial in many ways.

Stay tuned for Man of the Cloth, Part 2: On Calling.

11 thoughts on “Man of the Cloth, Part 1

  1. Simon

    Marc, I know you’ll do what’s best for you and your family, if only because you know the EXACT right place for a Lord of the Rings reference.

  2. Don Hendricks

    Marc,
    Thanks for sharing this. I went from college to seminary and have been ordained for 32 years. I can’t imagine any other life, but I also feel that culture has changed so much that traditional ministry is no longer similar to that which I was trained to do. Also, while I have loved what I do, I have strained against the boxes I have been forced to live in by those same traditions and expectations. A love/hate thing going on.

  3. Marc

    Hi Don,

    I’m thinking about writing about that aspect, too: fears and misgivings. One of those is the way the church is changing.

  4. Ky

    I laughed aloud at the Lord of the Rings reference. It’s one I use often.

    I’ll be praying for you, too.

  5. Phil L

    Despite the fact that you aren’t looking for opinions or advice, and without making any claims of special discernment, please allow me to state that I’m another who can see you in full-time ministry.

  6. Marc

    Thanks, Phil. I appreciate your comments.

    I should have maybe qualified my words about opinions and advice. I’m not opposed to either: I simply wanted it to be clear that I posted as a solicitation for opinions or advice.

    Plus, I didn’t think this was the place for someone to say, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!”, or “The Lord says, You will one day become Pope”. Your comments are perfectly acceptable.

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