Sunday, 19 June 2011

Vocation Frustration

I've had this post title saved for a few weeks. Every time I go to write something I go blank. Not because I lack anything to say but rather because I have too much. I must confess that this is more mental vomit for my own benefit then anything meant for others but if it interests you or is helpful then praise God.

I've been pondering my vocation for year. I was convinced of my calling to full-time Christian work years ago. First of all I thought I was going to be a youth worker until I realised that I hate the game 'Mafia' and therefore aren't suited to it. I then thought I was going to be a Baptist minister in the UK, currently I am working for an Anglican church as a Lay assistant minister. I love it! It's quite diverse in task and has great support from the Rector, Mick Hough and my ministry mentor, Bill McIlroy. On paper it is the perfect job and I'm certain that this is where God has meant for me to be now. However, I have itchy feet. For a few years now, after a mission trip to Japan for a month that I swore I wouldn't go on (and God told me I had no choice) and on which I swore I would never be an international missionary, I felt strongly that God called me to return to Japan to serve him there. I've had moments of which I was convinced and moments that I wasn't so sure. The whole team I was with is now in Japan in one way or another. I began to think recently that perhaps I only feel I should be there as that's where they are Perhaps I should be a parish vicar and my desire for international mission is simply that I don't want to be in the UK and I want the kudos of being an international missionary, to be seen as that little more holy? Is it merely my vanity and boredom?

About a week ago I went to a vocations day at Southward cathedral. It was an interesting day and I recommend it to anyone. We had some great talks from Brother Samuel, Minister Provincial of the Society of St Francis, small group sessions and a chance to look around a few stall advertising different vocational options. I was struck by a couple things (although I admit that there are possibly more what I took from it rather then his actual words). Firstly, we are called to be friends. Firstly with Jesus, secondly with those around us. Secondly, there is a difference between vocation and career. A career is a job, something you do for money. A vocation is what we live and devote our lives to. We all have the vocation of serving Jesus in different ways. God reminded me that my vocation was Japan and I shouldn't forget it! It wasn't just something I was desiring but rather a vocation that I was to fulfil. I can see God leading me places I never thought I'd be and teaching me things I will need for Japan including, most recently, how garden!

At lunch I was looking at the stalls and there was a CMS stall. I had made sure to look at all the others in the morning and avoid it then. I tried to put of the CMS stall untill after the day but I was drawn to go and see what was there. I chatted to a lovely lady who told me about CMS and asked about where I was. I explained and also mentioned how I knew Philip Forbes who was doing pioneering mission with CMS. She got quite excited, as did I. She gave me loads of booklets to look over and a great little book, 'On Call: Exploring God's leading to Christian service' by Stuart Buchanan. I haven't quite finished it yet (but almost there). It's really helpful to explore what international mission (in particular) looks like and to address perhaps some mis-conceptions and naive assumptions that we may make. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about mission. I think I might explore my vocation with CMS and see what they have to say.

Here are some questions I will be thinking about over the next few weeks:
1) Should I get ordained?
2) Should I finish (read start) my plumbing course?
3) What is my time scale?
4) Is God bothered as long as I fulfil my vocation of sharing Christ (and all that means) in Japan?

I pray that God will answer these questions and lead me to a conclusion, even if it's a partial one.

As Isaiah says, 'I am a man of unclean lips' but I cry with Isaiah 'Here I am Lord. Send me!'

Till Next Time!

P.s. Sorry that it's garbled.

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