One of the things I expected to find when embarking on a study of divinity was a calling. Specifically, MY calling. Even more specifically, I expected to find that I was called to a life of full-time church work, perhaps as a minister. To me, signing up for divinity classes was going to confirm what I’d been guiltily ignoring much of my adult life – that I’d been holding out on a higher purpose by doing all this silly computer stuff. This was a foregone conclusion in my mind.
The odd thing is that in 16+ weeks of rather intense Bible study, library research, paper writing, and seminary peer interaction coupled with as deep of a church work involvement as I’ve ever had, that shining moment of “calling” did not come. Rather the opposite has happened, in fact.
- I heard a number of sermons from a variety of unrelated sources teaching the idea that all Christians, no matter what professional occupation, are in full-time service. Service is part of being a Christian. You follow Christ’s example of being a servant to all, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in.
- In the context of the point above, while being a full-time minister is indeed a unique, high, and special calling of God on the life of an individual, that does not render inferior those who are NOT called in such a way. While the pages of Scripture are penned by many who were uniquely and dramatically called by God to do great things in the context of faith, not all of us are expected to be ministers. Or prophets. Or kings. We are expected to do what God would have us do, whatever that might be.
- It dawned on me that contemplation of full-time church work has been a notion I’d always conjured in my own head. I have never had any other person who knows me deeper than “hello” (there’s not many) suggest the ministry as a career track for me. Further, I can tell you where that notion in my own head came from – the pulpit browbeatings I endured as a child where those in church work were figuratively sainted, while secular occupations were implicitly (and occasionally explicitly) denigrated.
- When I stepped away from some of the technical work that had occupied me pre-seminary, I found that I was actually missed, and unexpectedly so. I didn’t really think my presence was all that significant, and so walking away for a bit seemed like a triviality. I was wrong, and have paid for that misconception in good and bad ways – mostly good, though.
Bottom line? I’m done with seminary classes, at least for the short-term. I enjoyed them, but they were a means to an end I’m not moving towards anymore. At some point, I want to complete a second class in Systematic Theology, which I found heady and enriching. However, I have no immediate desire to continue training for ministry work as such.
All that said, I’m going back into what I believe my true calling to be. That is, to be the best at whatever task is before me. I’m a computer network engineer, so I’m going to continue pushing the envelope as best as I can with my learning, writing, certifying, and podcasting relating to that field. Additionally, I’m hoping to start technical instruction for a living, which is something I’m actively researching and talking to people about. I’ve done technical instruction in the past, and have also taught in junior high & high school, as well as a broad range of ages in church settings, generally to good reviews.
I don’t see my foray into seminary as a failure. I see it as an important part of a confluence of events that has made me comfortable in my own skin. It’s okay to do what I’ve been doing. In fact, it’s time to take it to the next level, and see what God might have for me there. This process has sort of given me permission to continue down the track I’ve been on for over two decades now, sans the guilty conscience.