This morning, as I prepare to preach on Galatians and Paul's three-year sojourn into Arabia, the sojourn marking the period between call and action, I find myself considering those who have mentored me in ministry. That would be almost everyone, of course, but a few in my pre-seminary years stand out:
The non-mentor mentor, the associate pastor who, back when I was in my mid-thirties and beginning to ponder a call to ministry, was (with one long walk excepted) too busy and flustered to find time to listen and perhaps offer some pre-kindergarten suggestions for discernment. Reminder to self: If another person even hints at the intimations of a call in her life: make. the. time.
Her opposite on the spectrum, the associate pastor of my home church, whose primary gift may well be the nurturance of gifts in others. She was the first person to invite me into the pulpit, and she spent hours and hours with me over the years planning our adult education program, technically because I chaired the committee but, in reality, because she wanted to share with me her wealth of church leadership knowledge.
The most ironic of mentors where I was concerned, the Jesuit priest in his seventies who spent two years helping me discern and plot my official embarkation on my call, and then more years after that helping me to stick with it after Josh died. Hours and hours and hours of listening, with the occasional penetrating question tossed my way, and then email after email, helping me to envision a way through the thicket of grief which defined the last two years of seminary for me.
There have been others, of course, in seminary and beyond, but today I'm thinking about those early desert-of-Arabia years, those Be still and listen yourself years.
What about you? Who has listened to you, and who has helped you learn to listen to God?