From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Commentary: I love my job - most of the time

Date 15 Feb 2001 14:49:30

Feb. 15, 2001  News media contact: Tim Tanton·(615)742-5470·Nashville, Tenn.

NOTE:  A head-and-shoulders photograph of the Rev. Mike Macdonald is
available with this commentary.

A UMNS Commentary
By the Rev. Mike Macdonald*

Over the years, I have heard many clergy share the story of their call into
the ministry. A common theme is a struggle with the call. Many were unsure
of their call for a long time, or ran from it even after they were sure they
heard God calling.

My story is the opposite. I went before my church late in my sophomore year
of high school to say that I believed God was calling me into the ministry.
I didn't even have my driver's license yet. Since then, I have had periods
of disillusionment and discouragement with the ordained ministry. At such
times, it would have been a comfort to have some doubt about my calling. It
would have lifted a tremendous burden from my shoulders to think that maybe,
just maybe, God hadn't, or at least no longer was, calling me to minister as
an ordained person. But try as I might, I couldn't scrounge up any bona fide

The truth is that despite these periods of disenchantment, I love my job --
most of the time. The key to whistling while you work is to find work that
is intrinsically fulfilling to you.

There are many things I find rewarding about the ordained ministry. I enjoy
dealing with the eternal. I know that though my name will not go down in
history, I am caught up in something that will never end. My job is an
electron in a Kingdom that goes back through John Wesley, St. Augustine,
Christ, Moses, Abraham and In The Beginning. It is a Kingdom that will
someday be on earth as it is in Heaven. My part in this vast scheme is
minuscule, yet the Boss knows me by name. 

I realize that you don't have to be an ordained minister to have a part in
this Kingdom. My wife is a professional educator. I believe she is called to
her ministry every bit as much as I am to mine. You could make a strong case
that she makes a bigger difference in the world for God's Kingdom than I do.
But I like a job in which I can overtly be a Kingdom proclaimer.

Which brings me to a second element of my job I enjoy: preaching. I like
using words to proclaim the Word. I like to speak words that bring healing,
encouragement or repentance, depending upon the need at the moment. I enjoy
using words and phrases like a carpenter uses saws and sandpaper. I enjoy
the use of rhetoric, in the classic meaning of that word. I enjoy seeing the
light bulbs going off when people realize that stories thousands of years
old are more relevant to their lives than the front page of the morning
paper. I have a religious experience when the words carrying the Word,
however inadequately, begin to change how people live their lives.

I enjoy the intimacy with other people that the ordained ministry makes
possible. Because of my ordination, people who would never see a
psychiatrist or psychologist will share their burdens with me. I'm not
qualified to offer psychological counseling and don't try to. But I am more
and more convinced that many problems we have labeled "psychological" are
more truly spiritual. 

Clergy are privileged to be a part of the mystery of life in a way few other
people are. You cannot help being awed at the potpourri of joy and tragedy,
misery and majesty that is life when you visit a family on the second floor
of the hospital that is saying goodbye to a loved one dying of cancer, and
then immediately visit a family on the third floor of the same hospital that
is rejoicing in the birth of a first child.

I enjoy the variety of roles I fill. In one day, I can be a teacher, social
worker, counselor, janitor, computer technician, reference librarian,
administrator and more. 

When I turned 18 and could finally apply for a license to preach, the Little
Rock District superintendent told me something I have never forgotten and
believe more than ever: "If you can, in good conscience, do anything else,
do it." 

# # #

*Macdonald is pastor of Broad Street United Methodist Church in Mooresville,
N.C. He writes a weekly column, "Faith Matters," for the Gaston Gazette
newspaper in Gastonia, N.C.
Commentaries provided by United Methodist News Service do not necessarily
represent the opinions or policies of UMNS or the United Methodist Church.

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