Original post at http://lenguadelaz.blogspot.com/2013/04/do-you-hear-what-i-hear.html
I love to hear people talk about mentors and friends who assisted them on their journey into ministry. Some have shared with me about people in their lives that served as a support system. Often times these people will never even mention the word ordination, call, or discernment. The mentor waits patiently until the person finally hears and answers their call. The response is often, "Congratulations, I knew this all along but I am glad you too now know this." Others have mentors that spur them all along the way, constantly asking the question, "So when are you going to stop running from your call?"
Although I love hearing stories of people's mentors that have been there with them all along, I have difficulty pointing to one, or even two or three, people in particular that made a major impact on my call to ministry. A call to ordained ministry is a call to serve a community as a community and so my call was birthed out of not just one person in particular but a community of people.
I think to my time in Knoxville, growing up at Concord UMC. I first heard a faint calling while going through confirmation. Although I never shared my calling with anyone, my confirmation teachers were very encouraging and supportive in our Christian lives wherever we were. I then joined our youth group and Jane Currin, our youth director, was a major influence and a rock during that time. She was great at shared leadership and so empowered other leaders in the church to help with the youth group and empowered us as youth.
After graduation I went to the University of South Carolina where Tom Wall, our campus minister, constantly encouraged me to get involved in numerous different ways. The members of the Wesley, like Walter Cantwell, Joanna Marcy, Sajitha Joseph, and Susan Crook walked with me as I sough answers to questions I have never asked before. I also had many other clergy mentors such as Frank Anderson, the Lutheran campus minister, and Brad and Megan Gray. Wonderful lay members like Randy Rollings, Linda Lamb, and Michael Slapnik served to even further clarify my call by encouraging me as I interned at Greene Street United Methodist Church.
Along this journey perhaps the most important part was how supportive my parents and sister were. Although we may not always see eye to eye on every issue, they have encouraged and supported me in any way that they could.
All of this is to say that although I love stories of individuals making great impacts on people's calls, that was not the case for me. Instead, I felt my call to serve the church from the church. Everyone serves their own part in Christ's body and all of my friends and family have likewise served their part in assisting me in my call. After answering my call to ordained ministry, I now continue to surround myself with a supportive community who is assisting me in discerning what exactly my call to ordained ministry will look like. They provide a support system as well as an outlet for accountability. As I hear my call to ordained ministry I listen for God's voice. I listen for God's voice in my mentors, my pastors, my friends, my family, and everyone who has been a part of the Body of Christ with me. A call to serve God's church should be from God and God's church.