Be not faithless, but believing
I am sitting in a Benedictine retreat center in Indy/Beech Grove this afternoon. I'm at a Conference candidacy retreat for people who are exploring professional ministry. I'm one of the mentors on hand to take them through the process toward being certified as a candidate and being invited to attend Local Pastors School.
Right now, they're all taking the denominationally-required psych tests. The mentors had their training session. We killed an hour, and we're done. But they're going to be filling out inventories from the bug hatchery all afternoon. As we like to say in the UM clergy, "these aren't to determine if you're crazy, but if you're the right kind
of crazy to be a minister.
Mentoring those who are exploring a call, right up to through the process of candidacy and/or ordination, is just part of what we ordained folk do. Who knows, one of these people here trying to figure out where God is leading him or her might be my pastor some day -- or yours. So it's important that we all do a good job helping them.
Today, in the opening worship, we were all encouraged to think of those who encouraged us, or who affirmed our call, or supported us in the process. I'm thinking back and remembering: John Honeay, my Scoutmaster, also a Baptist minister; Don Wade, our pastor when we joined the church as young marrieds; Charlie DuMond and Bart Fletcher, my first Superintendents; all the Scouts and confirmands and youth group members whom I saw grow under my leadership; the folks at Bethesda and West Terre Haute First who healed my heart and made it possible for me to re-enter the full-time pastorate after I got my Ph.D.; and especially my wife, whom I shocked forty-one years ago this month when after only one month of marriage I told her I had been called to some kind of ministry.
They all believed in me. These candidates need people to believe in them, too. They probably won't all finish this process. Not all will have very long careers, even if they do. But they all need someone to believe in them and help them become their best. Which is really what ministry is about all the way around, and not just when talking about ministerial candidates.
The people who doubt themselves, who doubt their relationship with God, who doubt who God is, cannot be argued into faith or drilled into faith. They have to be believed into faith. We need to show them that we believe in God, but that we also believe in them -- and in what they can become when they give their lives to God.