Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just Sayin', Ya Know?

History:  Yes, I'm an attorney.  It's been quite awhile since I practiced law but, technically speaking, a signature on a document sent to the Ohio Supreme Court and my status is transformed from inactive to active.

More recent history:  

A  l-o-n-g period of discernment involving a number of other people.
Three years in seminary, living away from home half the time.
Field education.
Public examination and approval of my candidacy by my Presbytery
Five ordination exams.
And, I might mention, persistence  (however halting at times) in responding to God despite family tragedy and heartbreak ~ of monumental proportions ~  in the middle of all of it.

Reality: Restricted for personal reasons to this geographic area, in which there are not so many call opportunities at the moment.

Lunchtime conversation with a Presbytery committee member:

Could you go back and practice law?


  1. AAUGH, indeed.
    I recently had lunch with a presbytery staff member who told me that when she talked with inquirers and candidates she always advises them to be sure they have another profession or skill that they can support themselves and their families because she thinks there will be fewer and fewer full time paid pastoral positions in the future as the denomination and its congregations continue to shrink. I'm afraid she is right.

  2. UGH. Robin, I'm so sorry.
    QG, it's true that it looks like the full-time pastor is going away...but it's also true that upcoming generations are more institution builders than distrusters (as Xers and Boomers are), so it's possible that we'll see a resurgence there too. Too soon to tell...In general, I think it's a good idea to have other skills (said as someone with no other skills) but also to persist in the idea that we employ people whose job is to dream, think, equip, and empower people. I keep hoping, anyway.

  3. That is appalling. Participated in an interesting conversation with a person called Becky Garrison who is doing research on "new forms of church." She is intrigued that so many of them are being led by women. My thought was "duh". We don't have a whole lot of options but to build out at the edges. In my first years doing this I was lucky to have a very generous benefactress who helped launch my work. It is still back breaking hard some days and I have many sleepless nights. But too much of what is already in place in more traditional churches feel suffocating so I like the boundary lands.

    I keep having the sense from afar that even now, with God's grace, you are putting the pieces in place that will allow you to continue to be faithful to your call. I for one would gladly subscribe to anything you wanted to charge for on the internet. Your words and insight have helped me more times than I can count...

  4. Are you able to consider chaplaincy or CPE Residency at all? Or part-time calls? I am not sure what is available in your area for your denomination...

    I am similarly geographically constrained, and I ended up taking a part-time solo pastor call about 55 miles from my house. It's not ideal commute-wise (I had a preference for part-time calls), but it's better than eating bonbons. I am pretty sure God wants me serving his people rather than eating bonbons, anyway :)

    Good luck! It is a rough process.

  5. Man, how utterly annoying! Makes me actually appreciate the Methodist system, since IF they decide to ordain me, I and the bishop can sign a "limited itineracy" letter which will limit the geographical area where he can assign me. So far, so good, but I am only wanting to work part time. But if anyone EVER asked me if I could go back to engineering, I would be more than a little upset. Could I go back to a profession where I would make more in 4 months than I currently make in a year? Sure. You could too, I am sure, go back to practicing law. It's called a CALLING for a reason.

  6. Just like Lucy pulling away the football. Awful!

  7. Words fail me. I think I vote for Karen's comment...

  8. Well, I might need a good lawyer.

  9. Jen L, I am starting to reconsider those options.

  10. Possible responses to what has been suggested: move across to another denomination that needs your training, skills and ministry interests.
    Start a ministry from scratch in an area which you have a passion for, even if you're working full or part-time.
    Where is God in this and what do you feel he is saying? Do you feel he saying sit down, rest a while and recover some more before engaging in minstry?

  11. All good questions, Rob. I have a friend who is thinking about no. 1 after an entire lifetime as a Presbyterian - but it means starting over in the care process. No. 2 maybe. No. 3: No, I think what I am calling "integration" rather than "recovery" these days is a lifetime of work and I sense God in the middle of it with me.

    Of course there is something to be said for sleeping in a lot of mornings. But it doesn't pay the bills.

  12. That was so inarticulate. I meant that the word "recovery" doesn't really apply and that integration of this kind of loss is a lifelong project, not that I have to be working in the sense of call or employment to achieve that.

  13. AUUUGHHH is a good way to put it, since the words I would use would not be fit to print, especially on the blog of an aspiring minister. However, being the ecumenical person you are, I think you know there are other, certainly more suitable opportunities out there for you than pastoring. None of US expects you to go back to practicing law... ERRRGGGHHHH...

  14. Crimony. So annoying.

    I too was geographically limited in my searching. When month after month passed between a 60-mile away 20-month interim and.... nothing else, I began planning to open a wine shop. Or to audition for an on-air job at our local public radio station. Or to write the Great American Novel. Then, after 6 months, a friend called to tell me about an interim chaplain position at a university.

    But that was an awfully long six months.

    Only you know what you want and need. I think it is worth hanging in there for it. Peace, friend.

  15. It's not over yet, dear Robin. I believe some door will open for you yet. Praying to that end. Although, I do believe you could start your own ministry with great effect (maybe not $$ though, and that is the issue of the moment).

  16. Insert "veterinarian" for *practicing law* and I had the same conversation with multiple people. Today, someone asked me, "why don't you do both?" Hello???

    Words of wisdom: be true to yourself!

  17. Purple, that actually makes me feel better. (I'm sure it didn't you!) I do realize that people have no idea what has gone into preparing for a call, and by that I mean the input of God much more than I mean the years of study, testing, evaluation, practice, financial sacrifice, and self-disclosure.

  18. We are absurd, we human beings!

    There is a Psalm that says something like "they compassed me about like bees" ... and this makes me think of that psalm. These "bees" buzzing about stinging and buzzing and all the while just being what it is their nature to be.

    Human nature is not always pretty, is it?

    Robin, I think somewhere along the line you must have made the mistake of praying for patience because it looks like you're getting all kinds of opportunities to practice it!! :)


  19. I guess it is good to look at all of your options, just saying. :")

  20. Jen L, if you see this, could you email me? I would very much like tom talk about how you handle your call, as a similar PT-long distance situation is a possibility I am exploring.