aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,


Last Saturday, I heard Rudy Rudiger speak at the UM Men's Gathering at Purdue. On one level, it was an unexceptional pep talk. But when he said, You've got to find something you're passionate about, that hit me. I have been suffering a lack of passion in my work for some time. So I sat down to ask myself, what am I really passionate about in my ministry?

1. I am passionate about teaching the faith.
I care deeply about reaching kids with the gospel: especially the kids who hang around the edges, waiting for an invitation that usually never comes. I was such a kid. But I also feel strongly about teaching the faith to the unchurched and the formerly-churched, the confused and the searching and the theologically abused. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." I believe that. And I want to share that with the people I work with.

Teaching the faith is about more than reaching individuals for Christ, however. It's also about making the church -- the parish -- a place where Truth hangs out. Where your Questions are respected, but where you can also find Answers. And as an Elder (presbyteros) of the Church, my teaching is also part of the teaching ministry of the whole Church, and what I do complements -- as well as corrects -- what my colleagues do. I want The United Methodist Church to show integrity in its teaching, and a commitment to unwavering standards of orthodoxy. Every time I teach confirmation class or lead a Bible study, I'm helping to sustain or recover the teaching ministry of the whole Church.

2. I am passionate about the sacraments.
The Church as a whole seems to have caught up to where I started out nearly thirty years ago. Back then, some would have seen me as a formalist or a liturgigeek. Now, I'm standard brand, maybe even a bit old-fashioned. But I care that eucharist is frequently, rightly, and joyfully celebrated. And I care that baptism (and confirmation) are well-done. The sacraments aren't just whatever-you-want-them-to-be: they are what God wants them to be. And one of the highest privileges I hold is the right to stand at the nexus of all the relationships -- horizontal and vertical -- in the congregation, and offer the gifts of God for the people of God.

3. I am passionate about Scouting ministries.
This is not just because I'm a lifelong Scouter. That's part of who I am, but just being a Boy Scout or Girl Scout isn't the big thing. I mean, there are plenty of bores in uniform, you know? No, I see Scouting at minimum as protoevangelium and at its best as one of the most effective forms of discipleship ever invented. I wish my church had every form of Scouting group there is (I just don't have enough time and energy to lead them all).

4. I am passionate about relationships.
And here is the one thing I am passionate about that I don't do very well. We clergy have so many disposable relationships (we move too much). And lots of people don't know how to be friends with us, though they may admire us and all. And we're all too damned busy. This is the area of my life that demands real attention and personal growth. This is what my soul is crying for. And I know others are crying for real, solid relationships (rather than programs and slogans), too.

I need to get back to doing these things that I am passionate about. There are many important things, but these are the things that feed my soul.

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