This year marks the final stretch of my seminary journey. I’m less than 365 days away from earning my MDiv, and I couldn’t be more excited. But this four-year adventure has been more of a lesson in spiritual growth than it has been an academic evolution. (Don’t misread that though, I have definitely benefited from the intellectual rigor of Fuller’s classroom.) It’s the character development and spiritual disciplines that I will carry with me as I walk back into full-time ministry with a formal degree.
Most of all I have learned the power of listening well (to the Spirit and others). And I’m still listening, more than ever, as I wait to receive God’s call into a specific pastoral ministry.
This time last year I was finishing up a solo retreat where I set intentions and dreamed about the coming year. A simple yearly ritual. I try to get away and spend time in embodied prayer through hiking, reading, and brainstorming. I write down all the roles I’m playing in my life (student, artist, minister) and then I ask God what ambitions we should have together in each of these areas. It’s a holy collaboration during which we both look at one another and ask “What do you want?”, and the answer usually grows out of our combined answers.
I will have done more of these strategic discernment days with God in seminary than most companies do before their IPO, but I still don’t have clarity about the big picture: how to step into my future pastoral role. What type of church am I called to? Should I be focused on a specific generation or demographic? What ministry? Which state? There are more questions than answers.
So, this final year is about resting and listening—more listening. I can’t hurry clarity. But I can miss it if I’m not paying attention. Pastor Tim’s encouragement for us to step into times of Creative Waiting has been a positive reinforcement to not get frustrated with the unknown, but to ask God to give me hope and curiosity in the middle of the questioning.
So, I’ll be present. I’ll show up. And I’ll trust that in all the discernment groups, conferences, classes, mentors, and readings, that the Spirit will blow and I’ll know the next right step when I feel it.