Monday, July 14, 2008

Forging Ahead

Reflections on my time at camp

I realized many things about call and vocation this summer as I spent time at two of our Lutheran camps.
My first week was at LOMC here in Illinois. I spent much of the week getting to know the confirmation campers. I had the opportunity to talk to them about what it meant to be called to ministry. In this time I realized that in our seminary circle we use a very unique language. I had to define words like call, vocation and discernment, and talk about the difference between being called to ministry and being called to a specific congregation. Being so ensconced in the seminary community I had forgotten how much of this language is taken for granted. It was actually really helpful for me to refresh myself by explaining these things to others who might eventually experience them.
My second week was at NLOM in Nebraska. Here I spent a lot of time talking with staff. On my first day there one of the staff was talking about her college classes in youth ministry and how she loved everything she was doing but was really struggling in the process of discernment. I asked what held her back from trying seminary. She said, “Seminary is scary.” The name, the idea, the process is scary. This is something I had forgotten. That it is just a really daunting process, and though I love the whole thing I can totally understand why it would be daunting. I talked about how much I love it and how I have made great friends who support me and help me through the crazy times. I also reassured her that there are a lot of people who come into seminary who are unsure about how they will serve and how great it is to have others around in the discernment process.
Another day I was sitting with a couple of staff, one of whom is about ready to graduate with a degree in graphic arts and web design. We talked about the pressure she’s under to find a job and have a plan. This staff member talked about how she is at the point where she is willing to forge ahead with getting a job in her field and trusting that the Spirit will guide her into what should come next as the time comes. But her family can’t handle the ambiguity. They want her to have a life plan and get things settled. It’s hard with those conflicting views. I think so much harm comes from the idea that when we’re between 17 and 22 years old we are supposed to discern what God has planned for the rest of our lives. We need to encourage the idea that God calls us to do God’s work each day and what that entails changes with the need in the world around us.
I am so grateful for these reminders about the stresses that can come with discernment and call and to share these concerns with people who are currently in the midst of considering seminary--maybe that's you.

Outdoor Ministry Ambassador & Seminarian, Angel Jackson

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