Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ambition and the Gospel of Downward Mobility

I have been wrestling a lot with what it means to be called. What it means to be called to the Christian faith. What it means to be called to ministry. In other words, what it means to be an apprentice to Jesus in the very specific context of my life.

Part of the reason is that I have been trying to understand what is next in my life. I know that there is something next, that there needs to be some sort of change, but I do not know what that is right now or where that will lead me.

There is part of me that wants to make a next step UP. What I mean by that is that I feel like my next move should be in some way an improvement from my present situation. It should (hopefully) pay better, be closer to family, be a place where I can be more sucessful, and feel better about my life and its direction.

The problem is, I am not sure this attitude is the attitude that an apprentice of Jesus should have. When I came here, I came to a place where I felt like the Kingdom of God needed me. I came to a place where people needed my leadership, and I felt that I could make a real difference. Colorado Springs presented a new challenge...and it seemed like God was calling me to a place that needed just what I had to offer. It was not a step down in salary, but coming here was a step down on the ladder of success, in noteriety among my peers, and in number of youth attending our church.

At first I was a little excited by the challenge, but soon later it became clear that the Colorado Springs challenge was a bigger challenge than I anticipated. The youth group was smaller than I was told it was, the people were less willing to support the ministry than I was led to believe, and my job description was changed about 2 months after I decided to come here. And, after trying and trying, I am about ready to shake the dust from my sandals and move on to a place that will be more receptive to me and my ministry.

At the same time as I am continuing to feel led to look, I feel that my present circumstance is teaching me something. Specifically teaching me something about the Cross, and how to take up my cross daily. I don't equate my present hardships with the hardships of Jesus or Paul. Their experiences are unique to them. Yet, at the same time, I sense that my soul is in a very good place as I am allowing the awful ways I am being treated to somehow be formative for me in the long run. I don't really know the lessons I am supposed to take from this point in my life yet, but I do know that is has something to do with understanding that these hardships and heartaches at this present time are somehow making me more like Jesus..who suffered so much more than my current frustrations, and whose call was an infinitely greater burden to bear.

As I look, I try to be open to whatever God is calling me to. I have checked in on a number of different kinds of positions and places. Yet there is a part of me that wants to look for something "better" careerwise than where I am at, and there is another part of me that feels that I again need to be open to going where I am needed. And going where I am needed may not be easy or comfortable or fun. It might even be a lot like here, God forbid.

Right now....I am hoping for all of the above.


San Nakji said...

I think it's fine to expect the best out of life. You sound like someone who deserves good things to happen and I hope you get those things that make you happy. God would not begrudge you this...

wilsonian said...

Excellent post, Clint. I'm sorry that your current situation sucks. What a great place to be in though... open to learning what God has to teach you there. Cool. I'm taking notes :)

And I think your point about following Jesus not always leading to upward mobility is exactly right.

Oricon Ailin said...

I'm so sorry that you are feeling like this, Clint.

Perhaps you should think of it in another way. Don't think of it as more money or better career opportunities. Think of in the sense of what Mark 6:8-11 says. God gave instructions to his chosen 12 when He sent them out. Think of it in that sense and perhaps you will feel more confident and peaceful.

God is giving you a wonderful opportunity. Perhaps moving on to something else is why He has brought these challenges before you.

"Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them."

God be with you and always know that you are in my prayers.

The Gig said...

Hang in there Clint. If you feel God has sometihing different or better for you in life, just trust that it will come about -- meanwhile, just keep talking to him and letting him know how you feel. I'm sure you are praying about it and as the Bible states: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Brotha Buck said...

Look at Gateway, Austin. That would be cool.