As part of my process to become an ordained minister in the ELCA, in 2016 I was required to write an essay focusing on my hopes and dreams for the church, where I see God at work in the world, and what I believe about our incredible God. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing excerpts of this essay, as our Learning Lutheran educational series continues and we as a congregation dive into our faith, I invite you to dive into my faith with me.
- As an outgrowth of your personal gifts for missional leadership, envision how you will nurture and empower others to serve as missional leaders through their vocation and participation in the life of the church. Within your response integrate an expression of a Lutheran understanding of vocation.
Vocation is more than just our occupations in this world, but “it refers above all to the whole theater of personal, communal, and historical relationships in which one lives.”[i] So if we can talk about vocation as the way in which we as Christians are called to participate in God’s work in the world, called to share God’s love and mercy with our neighbor, and called to do all this in every aspect of our lives, our vocation, whether it be occupational, relational, or part of our identity as an individual, is all tied up in God’s hope, dream, and will in our world today.
Motivations matter. Nurturing and empowering others to become leaders for me is about sharing God’s love and mercy as part of my own participation and gratitude for God’s hope and dream in my life. I struggle with this question because my motivation when sharing this sort of understanding of call and vocation doesn’t come from a want to make someone into a leader, but instead this empowering and nurturing comes from living out my own vocation.
Different ways to share this love and mercy come through proclaiming God’s love and forgiveness in a sermon, in a Bible Study, in a conversation, and sometimes in our very actions with each other. When I was sitting in my pastor’s office, he didn’t tell me God loved me, he showed me through his kindness and his acceptance of me and my doubts. God’s love overflows through people.
Empowering others this way is more than creating leaders, it’s sharing God’s love. I responded to God’s love shared with me by the pastor and members of Creator. My gratitude and faith called me into participating in God’s dream for the world, and it’s that love and mercy I share that can empower someone to see the way in which God is calling them too.
[i] Kolden, M. (2001, 10 01). Luther on Vocation. Retrieved from ELCA: http://www.elca.org/JLE/Articles/1015