Ordination: Ministerial Confirmation or Religious Hoop-jumping?

In just under a month, I’ll be sitting in a room, surrounded by a group of my elders. For several hours they’ll be questioning me. Then at the end we’ll all eat. No, it’s not my Bar Mitzvah. July 28th is my ordination council.

For those of you unfamiliar with the process of ordination, it’s simply a way in which the church recognizes and confirms that an individual’s has been called by God to the ministry. Basically, the ordainee (me) spends several hours answering questions before a council of church leaders; their goal is to determine if this individual is discerning and trained enough for this call. If the council feels confident in what they’ve seen and heard, they then authorize that individual to take on the office of ministry.

And frankly, I’m terrified about mine.

Now, most of the men on the council I know and respect, so I’m not afraid of being sniped. I’m not really even afraid of the questions, because I’ve spent enough time asking them to be quite familiar with them. My terror is twofold:

First, the state of my heart. I’m sure it’s no surprise to frequent readers of my blog that I have “direction” issues. I love ministering to people, but I’m getting weary trying to be a full-time designer and a full-time pastor. Take that weariness and drop a twenty page doctrinal statement and the lifetime commitment this ordination implies on it’s head. That’ll smart. (What’s worse is that saying that feels so selfish.)

Second, and perhaps more salient, my doubt. Sure, I can throw around “verbal plenary” and “ex nihilo” with the best of them; but do I believe those bullet points with every fiber of my being? Is it a lie to profess these things even if there are deep, dark doubts lurking in the depths of my soul? Is there latitude to say, like the father in Mark 9, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Someone I love dearly told me that sometimes you have to play along with the not-so-important stuff in order to be able to make it to the important stuff. Play along until you get past it. Of course, the idealist within went berserk at the mere mention. But isn’t that like college? Take the tests and pass the classes so you can get a piece of paper saying what you already know? But that still made me cringe. Do I even want to be involved in something that requires me to jump through hoops? One of the reasons I love my web design business is that people appreciate and pay me for my ability, not for some piece of paper hanging on the wall.

This same person also told me that an ordination council is probably not the place to air out my angst. Probably wise. Just hard for a brutally honest person to swallow. I’ve found that sharing insecurities with people often helps them them relate better. I doubt this approach would be all that endearing for an ordination council, though.

Council Member: “So, Jesse, it says here that you believe that God is one yet demonstrated in three persons. Can you elaborate?”

Me: “Well, not really. It’s sort of confusing. I was hoping maybe you could flesh this out a bit for me…”