One of the hymns at our recent retreat had the refrain: “Thus chosen, now, O Lord, we ask for faith in your unfailing grace to make us equal to the task.” (It’s #450 in Common Praise.) I confess that I have been humming (or whistling) that phrase for much of the last week.
Perhaps one of the great challenges of ministry is this: keeping the faith. All of us can, I hope, point to transformative moments in our faith journey that encouraged us, opened our eyes, and directed us towards theological college and ministry preparation. With the support of friends, family, and our churches, we look forward to engaging this work with the enthusiasm and energy that comes from knowing God has called us to this moment.
But it is not always like this. If you are like me, your path into and through the world of ministry will take a number of turns that may leave you feeling confused, lost, or troubled. That great energy and hope that comes from the sense of vocation can easily dissipate, particularly when you end up doing things in ministry you never thought you would be doing. “I was called to ministry to share God’s love with the world,” you might say. “So why I am spending all my time dealing with this petty conflict between two members of my church community?” Or: “I was called to ministry to preach the good news. So why is all my energy directed towards the dire financial position of this congregation?”
It is in these moments that we need “faith in God’s unfailing grace.” God has called us to this ministry. God has set before us tasks that are worthy of the good news of Jesus Christ. God has given us the gifts to do the work before us. It may not take the shape we think or satisfy expectations formed when we looked at ministry through rose-coloured glasses. But the great truth of the Christian tradition is that God is faithful and God is gracious. May God grant us the faith to trust in that same grace and so be equal to the tasks God has put before God’s people in our own time.
This reflection was written by College Principal Jesse Zink for this week’s Wingèd Ox, a community news digest named for our patron, St. Luke, and published weekly during the term on Monday (or Tuesday when Monday is holiday).