The call process is going nowhere for me. I send my stuff to churches I think I could serve well in many ways ~ and I'm, you know, not so young, so I have a skill set that encompasses a wide variety of church communities and needs ~ and usually I hear nothing in response. Or something like, "We've concluded that you're not a match for our needs," which causes me to squint at a church form describing a position that seems made to order for me and wonder, "What do they see that I don't? What do they know that I don't?"
It's not as if my gifts lie moribund. I'm teaching a college class, which I love doing. I'm seeing a lot of people in spiritual direction. I'm preaching frequently enough. I'm starting to work on some of my writing for publication. I'm doing a few little things here and there for my home church.
The professor with whom I visited last week assured me that it's not me; that it's the vastly overcrowded pastor population for the dramatically shrinking church population. But the reality remains: I did spend three years in seminary in the hope of nurturing and leading a congregation. It's tough, this rejection stuff.
Today I received a little note from someone dear to me, in which he expressed his hope that I would soon find a place that would "gently challenge" my gifts.
Hmmm, I thought. And thought some more. "Gently challenging." I like that. That's exactly what I need at this point.
Perhaps there's a church out there in need of someone who herself needs a gentle challenge.
Image: St. Mary's Church of Burton Latimer in England, here.