Ten years ago today, I was ordained as a pastor in Mennonite Church USA. It’s an odd kind of anniversary—one that feels like it should be celebrated somehow, but one for which there are no set celebration models. So I’ve spent my day being a pastor—answering email, writing a sermon, making phone calls, visiting a church member. It’s been a good way to spend a day. It’s been a good way to spend ten years.
Sometimes when I am studying scripture or writing liturgy or listening deeply to a congregant or enjoying a meeting with colleagues, I have a moment of perspective and gratitude. I think, “I cannot believe I get to do this for my job.”
To be clear, I don’t always have these positive thoughts when I’m doing pastoral work. Sometimes I think things like: “I don’t want to go to another meeting tonight.” and “Where are the people who said they’d help set up chairs?” and “Why is there so much bad theology on the internet?”.
Still, the gratitudes outweigh the complaints. Always.
You know how you never quite feel like an adult? How even when you’re in your 40’s and two of your three kids have graduated from high school, you’re still looking around for the grownups to take care of things?
That’s kind of how I’ve felt about being a pastor. It was always something I was going to be. Something to grow into. Despite the fact that I mastered divinity, I’ve never felt like I have a firm handle on pastoring. As a Mennonite, I don’t wear the special pastory clothes. As a woman, I don’t always get the respect afforded male clergy. As a part time pastor, I don’t live and breathe church like some of my colleagues. And, as just part of who I am, I don’t always feel particularly pastoral—I have a bit of an edge at times.
But regardless of how I feel, I am a pastor. A legit one for ten years now. (With much thanks to Western District Conference for retaining my ordination when people were calling for it to be revoked.) This holy work I get to do–it is both a calling and a commitment. It is both a role I have chosen and a role that others have given to me. It is both what I do and who I am.
So today I celebrate ten years of ordained ministry with immense gratitude. Gratitude for the work I get to do. And deep gratitude for the people with whom I get to serve. Because I couldn’t be a pastor without this quirky group of people in Lawrence, Kansas, who let me pastor them.