It is common for people to experience barriers when making a change in their lives. From the interviews I’ve conducted, most people have encountered difficulties or resistance in pursuing their call to ministry.
After retiring from a rewarding career in the corporate world, Ina Barton was interested in going to seminary at some point in her life. She began her studies in church history and theology; but they were put on hold when her husband’s health declined. Ina took a leave from her schooling to care for her husband, Michael, and after his death, graduated from Luther Seminary with a Master of Arts degree.
As a lay leader, Ina enjoys serving in her church and as a volunteer, enjoys leading weekly worship services at a local nursing home. Her training has benefited her, her local congregation, and the residents of the care facility who attend the services she organizes.
Ina reflected on what lead her to go back to school after her retirement and the response she received from others:
Ina Barton responded to God’s call. God’s call comes to people. God’s call persists in the midst of questioning from others.
When a person takes a risk to share something deeply personal, like a call from God, it often makes them feel vulnerable. Personally, I did not bring up the subject of going to graduate school until I had considered it for a period of years. When I shared the idea with others, I often received a response similar to Ina’s: “You’re not going to be a pastor, are you?”
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear others react with a response like: “Oh, that’s great!” or “I’m happy for you.” Or “Best wishes with that!” Often, the questioning and skeptical reaction can feel invalidating.
Perhaps others just don’t see what you see. Perhaps they are seeking a deeper understanding in their questions. Perhaps they personalize it and could not imagine making the move themselves. And while it would be nice and possibly helpful to hear some encouraging words, it isn’t a deal breaker. God’s call, drawing people into a deeper and transforming relationship, surpasses human approval.