I’ve been doing a lot of surfing, looking at different seminaries, different missions opportunities. I’ve been in Clemson for quite a while now, and though I like my church, my job, my house – I wonder if I am not too comfortable. It’s not like I am not serving actively. I don’t feel I’m necessarily NOT doing what God has called me to, but I do feel a call to something else. I’ve been praying about it for a while but am still not clear what.
I’ve always felt a pull toward the international mission field, but to be honest, I am not a very outgoing person, not very gregarious, though I enjoy people ‘s company once I get to know them. I do have a passion for other cultures, other languages, etc. – so much so that I have been accused of caring more for “foreign” things than the sort of things that a typical American would be. Nothing has ever clearly presented itself, but I wonder if I have just been avoiding the overturning of everything I know?
The International Mission Board offers 2-3 year terms that are not really intended as career-building, and 3-4 year apprenticeships that are more inline with permanent service once completed. Both are intense interactions with a particular region, involving language and cultural training. But the requirements for the career-oriented require a certain number of seminary hours before going into the career ministry. The 2-3 year term positions do not require this, but if you find God pulling you deeper, what do you do? You’ve spent all that time, still need some seminary education, and then still have to do the apprenticeship program…
I’ve also felt a definite call towards teaching ministry. Though once again, the thought of being a pastor freaks me out. Pastoral counseling seems like something I could do – but the level of tact required in the face of sin and other bad decisions – especially in the face of complete rejection of sound judgment – scares me. Once again, taking the more pastor-teacher role would make sense to me, but I just don’t know. Right now, I continue to lead devotional ministries to encourage and teach the body. I don’t feel like I am wasting my time! But I wonder if I am settling for less than what God is asking of me. The current state of my church (interim pastor and searching for a full-time pastor) precludes me having opportunities for experimenting and testing what God is doing (like me preaching occasionally). I guess I could get on some rotation with local churches for filling in, but I haven’t really felt God asking me to do that.
I could imagine some way that missions and teaching are combined. But my experience right now seems like a huge wall to jumping in. It’s not really… God is quite able to make up for my shortcomings, to develop me in ways that I can’t even begin to consider. I’ve been struggling to get out of debt and have made positive headway. But I’m not done yet. But am I using debt as an excuse to avoid going, when I continue to make purchases and focus on entertainment that takes money away from getting out?
Kim is not sure about extended time overseas. She has just recently given me some “green light” towards the mission field, but she is thinking short term, like a year. And in her mind, once done we come back to the house, to life-as-we-know-it. In my mind, in my heart, I see a completely different vision, something more long term, requiring more commitment, more sacrifice. Her concerns are valid – we have a family with three young children (2, 4 and 6 years of age). We have no experience outside of the USA doing missions. I certainly am not inclined to do anything without her consent, even if it is not her first choice. I don’t want to bully her into something. It could be God using her to direct me away from my own foolishness. It’s hard to read whether she struggles with the same feeling of “comfortable”. She has never been of the opinion that Clemson would be her grave, but the idea of uprooting soon made her become tentative. She opened the floodgate telling me she felt like we should do something – her something was much smaller than what is in my heart.
Of course, selling home and moving may be more difficult in the current economy – but I hate this as an excuse for staying put. As if comfort and security could be valid reasons to avoid God’s call. I don’t see anyway of going to seminary or going overseas and keeping our home. We simply pay too much to own it, and there is no way we could keep it up. No seminary is near enough to commute on a regular basis. There are some extension campuses and online programs with many seminaries, but they are spotty in the classes offered and will not allow the completion of full degrees. Moving seems like an eventuality either way. It is just a question of when. I could start doing core classes here, preparing to move whenever it is possible.
My mind and heart are pushing me to do something soon – get started with seminary this upcoming fall at Southeastern Theological Seminary (in Raleigh, where my current company has a facility). Or start immediately looking at going overseas for a 2-3 or 3-4 year term with the International Mission Board. If you’ve read this far, you can probably hear a little bit of posturing. As if I’m “wondering” – when really I’m trying to overcome fear, to ascertain whether God is saying now or whether I am pushing too far too quickly.
Anyway, please be in prayer for me and my family. I’m not sure what the future holds right now – but I think some sort of change is coming.