Posts Tagged gifted

Thinking Theologically – Molly Marshall

Thursday, April 18, 2013 Thinking Theologically – Associated Baptist Press

Demystifying Christian vocation

“I am working in the field of adoption. I wasn’t able to find a church position after I finished seminary.”

“I oversee the freshmen dorms at a state university. You would not believe what comes through my door, but I am not sure this qualifies as Christian vocation.”

These comments came from two 30-somethings, concerned about their fidelity to a call from God. I visited a sister seminary this past week to offer lectures and listened to these graduates describe their work, both feeling as if they were not really in ministry.

I think it is time to demystify our language about what it means to be “called” and how we exercise our giftedness. This will grow increasingly important as we realize that guaranteed lifetime employment in a congregational setting will most likely become less of an option for seminary graduates. Rather than relegating persons who serve in other contexts to a differing status, it is important that we rethink our theology of vocation.

Rather than the old language of “full-time Christian vocation,” which meant paid pastoral staff work or long-term missionary appointment, our day requires a more comprehensive and imaginative description.

I believe that some of the most important ministry will occur beyond the walls of the church. Those not considered religious “professionals” will offer much of it.

Educators, engineers, endocrinologists, essayists, entrepreneurs and entertainers — to just name a few “e” professions — have distinctive contributions to make, and they can be expressions of gifted Christian vocation.

Are the gifts we use in the service of the church different from the gifts we use in our other work? What makes a gift “spiritual?”

Jürgen Moltmann helps correct some misconceptions about the nature of spiritual gifts by linking call and endowment. Instead of opposing natural gifts to spiritual gifts, he sees that when people are called (1 Corinthians 7:17), God “puts their whole life at the service of the coming kingdom, which renews the world.”

When offered to Christ, all gifts become charges, and nothing can be called unclean. Powers and energies that a person might regard as mundane can become instruments of the Spirit.

New thinking about vocation can assist in bridging the secular-sacred divide that has long plagued Christian thinking. Emergent Christianity finds these categories a false dichotomy and strives for a porous interface.

Anything that gets labeled as “secular” seems to be of negligent concern to God — or Christians, for that matter. Cultural and civic life matter, and Christian witness in them must be strengthened. Indeed, there are many channels for God’s work in the world, and divine power enlists human agency wherever possible.

As a person engaged in theological education, I care deeply about preparing persons for certain leadership roles for congregations, but I do not see our school’s mission as confined to that. We are preparing people to serve the common good in myriad ways.

There is a mission to humanity that is more encompassing than churches often envision. Our graduates exercise their callings through social services, public policy, collegiate ministries, health care, teaching in public schools, journalism, sustainable farming, hospice and counseling. All are contexts for transformative investment.

And all are worthy of being considered Christian vocation. Even as we encourage churches to “cultivate a culture of calling” so that new generations of pastors will emerge, we must not neglect a wider vision of vocation for the whole people of God.

I had an opportunity to speak again with these capable Christian ministers after the lectureship, and I inquired whether I had affirmed that what they are doing is truly Christian vocation.

They said that they sensed a new dignity in their professions and that they had not “left ministry.” I commended them for their remarkable work. They have opportunity to be the hands and feet, indeed the very presence of Christ, with those whose lives they intersect.

Dr. Molly Marshall is president of Central Baptist Seminary and a favorite speaker at the Hamrick Lectureship at First Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

 

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Thankful Thursday – Vickie Monroe Guerry

On this Thankful Thursday I am thankful for the gifts that Vickie Guerry brings to my life. My career as President/CEO of the Charleston Speech and Hearing Center, Inc. was about as fulfilling as a life’s work can be. That fulfillment was in no small measure related to the wonderful staff, board members, volunteers and clients that I had the pleasure of working alongside. My gratitude took a giant leap forward when Vickie Guerry joined our staff. Vickie is an outstanding speech language pathologist, a creative teacher of the hearing impaired, a conscientious administrator and a tireless advocate for handicapped children and adults. Get the picture? In addition to all that, she is an absolute delight to work with. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and Vickie is a great example of those who serve in the profession. My philosophy was to surround myself with the very best people I could, make the resources they needed available to them to the best of my ability and then to get out of their way. Over the years, we offered the community the very best. The proof lies in how often people tell me how important the center was to their lives or to their children or grandchildren. .A few weeks ago I talked about Stewart Cohen. Think about having those two on a team together. Vickie is also a devoted wife and mother. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the gift of Vickie Guerry to my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our life. Let her or him know of your gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad you did.

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Thankful Thursday – Vickie Monroe Guerry

On this Thankful Thursday I am thankful for the gifts that Vickie Guerry brings to my life. My career as President/CEO of the Charleston Speech and Hearing Center, Inc. was about as fulfilling as a life’s work can be. That fulfillment was in no small measure related to the wonderful staff, board members, volunteers and clients that I had the pleasure of working alongside. My gratitude took a giant leap forward when Vickie Guerry joined our staff. Vickie is an outstanding speech language pathologist, a creative teacher of the hearing impaired, a conscientious administrator and a tireless advocate for handicapped children and adults. Get the picture? In addition to all that, she is an absolute delight to work with. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and Vickie is a great example of those who serve in the profession. My philosophy was to surround myself with the very best people I could, make the resources they needed available to them to the best of my ability and then to get out of their way. Over the years, we offered the community the very best. The proof lies in how often people tell me how important the center was to their lives or to their children or grandchildren. .A few weeks ago I talked about Stewart Cohen. Think about having those two on a team together. Vickie is also a devoted wife and mother. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the gift of Vickie Guerry to my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our life. Let her or him know of your gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad you did.

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Thankful Thursday — Blanche Ellen Smith

            On this Thankful Thursday I am thankful for Blanche Ellen Smith. She is a pillar at First Baptist Church of Charleston having played the piano and organ for over fifty years, but she will be moving to Savannah soon to be near her daughter and her family. When Blanche Ellen and the late David Redd played duets you knew the angels were standing still to listen. Her late husband, Billy, was the first person I discussed starting the John Hamrick Lectureship Series with. When he gave the idea the thumbs up, I knew that we had smooth sailing. Besides knowing everything about everything at First Baptist, she is charming, witty and encouraging. In the years that I have known her, I have never heard an unkind word come from her. We will miss her terribly. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the friendship, talent, grace and witness of Blanche Ellen Smith.

            Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the presence of an important person in your life. Who are you thankful for today? Let him or her know of your gratitude. You will be glad that you did.

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