God’s Good Time

shallow focus of clear hourglass
Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

Standing between my current head of staff and former supervisor, I had to take a moment to thank God.

Two years ago, in the period of three days, I received five emails and phone calls along the lines of “you have wonderful gifts for ministry and will do a whole lot, just not with us.” I was devastated, questioning everything about my call, and trying to figure out where to turn to take my next step while frozen in shock.

After a long drive to a meeting and lots of yelling at God, someone let me know about an opening coming up with a congregation I had always been interested in. I immediately made a phone call and started scheduling meetings in hopes that this would lead to a very different phone call than I had been receiving most recently.

Fast forward two years and I am taking a Sabbath day from that position which I called about while wiping tears from eyes.

We never know how God is working and I was reminded of that this past weekend. A wonderful member of my congregation is known for offering comfort in times of stress and uncertainty by saying, “All in God’s good time.”

Indeed. All in God’s good time.

Well into a new year, many of us are faced with new challenges. Budgets are being finalized while many are considering upcoming transitions. Capital campaigns are beginning and congregations are dissolving. New year’s resolutions are long forgotten and answers are still being sought. We are faced with struggle of yearning for an answer NOW while we try to remember that God is at work and the answer will come only when God’s work has ushered in the next step.

We pray. We yell. We weep. We watch. We wonder if what we are doing is enough.

We hang on to every ounce of faith that we can, and in so many cases we might wonder if that amounts to even the size of a mustard seed.

Through it all, God works. God shapes and molds every action and every prayer. God carries us and comforts us, sending us reminders that an answer is coming (even if it isn’t in the way we are looking for).

All in God’s good time.

As I encounter challenges and struggles in both my professional and my personal life, these words echo in my heart. These are the words which calm my racing heart and help me to take inventory of possible next steps. I am reminded of the many ways God’s good time may have taken longer (and even shorter) than I had planned, and how every time the end result was more than I could ever hope for.

The late Rev. Billy Graham says it in a way which truly resonates with me – “Never forget that God isn’t bound by time the way we are. We see only the present moment; God sees everything. We see only part of what [God] is doing; [God] sees it all.”

Whatever is challenging you in your ministry today, whatever answer you are looking for, whatever chance you are waiting on – seek peace in knowing that all will happen in God’s good time.

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

A Prayer for the New Year

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

We have waved goodbye to our families and packed up the trees.
The magi still follow the star, but we are returning to the light of our calendars.
Bring us pause, Gracious God.

Before we plan for what is next, help us to give thanks for what has been.

For the family and friends,
for the health and recovery,
for the struggles and the achievements.

With our blinders and our knowledge telling us what to do,
you still found ways to fill us with your wisdom.

In the dark and hurting world, when we did everything to stop you,
you still sent your Light to break through and shine on our path.

In the midst of our destruction and development,
you continued to create beauty and life.

We have grieved and argued, we have celebrated and grown.
We have turned our eyes and ears to you as we rejoice and pray for strength and life.
You have stood firm, reaching out and embracing us with always open arms.

As the countdown comes to an end,
the calendars turn to another filled page,
as demands set in,
joy gives way to grief,
the new child so quickly grows –

Continue to fill us with your Wisdom,
continue to guide us by your Light,
continue to create in us so that we might live through you.

As the year twists and turns, stand by our side and hold our hand.
As the weight grows, fill us with your strength to press forward.
As the plans shift, open our ears to your call.
As life continues, may your Word continue
showing us that there is more, and calling to us to share.

Filled with your Love, led by your Son, and guided by your Light
from one day into the next, from one year to another,
so that all might know your love and grace. Amen.

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

Sitting in the dark of Advent

moon and stars
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

This Advent, I am painfully aware of so much grief which surrounds me. The grief of lost loved ones, the grief of lost jobs, the grief of lost chances. This season, which is typically billed as one of joy and celebration, is anything but for so many.

We rush around in an attempt to cover the pain brought on by mentions from others about family parties, vacations, and work schedules. We decorate our homes and light candles, reciting a script that we just can’t completely stand behind right now as we struggle and wonder what plan God has for us.

Why?

This is the time when we should celebrate that in all of our fault, doubt, confusion, and grief, God sent Christ for us. There was no list of requirements to receive the love and grace which the Christ child came to share. No decree went out that we must have everything pulled together in order to visit that stable and meet the Christ child.

Christ came to each of us in the middle of the night. If our savior came in the midst of the dark, why are we so afraid to sit there? Why are we ashamed to admit that the dark is where we find ourselves right now?

I wonder what this season would look like if we shifted our focus away from the scripts and the decorations, away from the masks we put on. I wonder what meaning this season would take on if we acknowledged the ways we struggle and instead of hiding them away in the empty decoration boxes, put them out beside the tree. What if we took time to sit in the dark of Advent for a while, openly and together, and listened for those angels to sing and announce Christ’s birth?

This season, I encourage you to remember that if we had everything together and perfect, there would have been no need for God to send his Son. I encourage you to allow others to see all that decorated your home – the twinkling lights and the struggle. I encourage you to embrace all that this season is for — the joy and celebration and the struggle and doubt.

If you can only sit in one part of Advent right now, sit where it is most true to you and remember that Christ was sent to us because God saw the ways in which we struggled and felt separated; God heard our cries in the wilderness and created this new way for us.

May we all find find strength and comfort as we sit in the dark of Advent and may we all find warmth by the fire with which we light each Advent candle.

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

Time to Slow Down

autumn autumn leaves branches danger
Photo by David Whittaker on Pexels.com

Over the past week, I have been reminded just how hectic and exhausting the season around Thanksgiving and Christmas can be for a pastor. This is a season of both thanksgiving and lament, and pastors are incredibly privileged to walk with individuals through it all. In my own experience, this is probably one of the most beautiful parts of ministry. I give thanks every time someone invites to me walk with them, grateful for their trust and grateful for the ways that I see God working in my relationship with each person.

This past week, though, I felt the burn out.

The day before Thanksgiving, I pulled up to my house with roughly an hour to decompress after a very intense 24 hours of pastoral care, clean up the house for family, take a shower, and rest. Needless to say, the decompression and rest didn’t happen the way it should have! At least both I and the house were clean though, right?

I rallied from Wednesday afternoon until Saturday afternoon, convinced that if I drank enough coffee and smiled through the yawns, I could make it. As I slowly slipped into the comfort of my “shell” while spending time with friends early in the weekend, I realized just how much that decompression and rest were needed. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at my upcoming week and I wondered how I would make sure that everything happens the way it needs to AND that I am taken care of. I looked at the month of December in my planning calendar and felt my body slump in the chair as my mind said “It is ok! Just rally and vacation will be here before you know it!”

It isn’t just about rallying though and it isn’t about how convincing our smile is either.

During this season of church decorating, parties, meetings, extra worship services, and family events, we pastors need to remember that it is important to find a way to slow down and take in the peace and hope of the Christ child.

Maybe we can find a brief moment of peace over a cup of coffee and a devotional before we rush to get the kids out the door each morning. Maybe we can take a few minutes to sit in the Sanctuary, praying for those on hearts and just sitting in the silence and comfort of God’s embrace. Maybe we can sit and look out at the world, listening to the sounds of creation settling in for the night, just before we go to bed.

However we find it, I pray that each of us finds time to slow down during this season. I pray that in the midst of the planning and meeting, we can simply sit and be. We spend so much time reminding our parishioners to take care of themselves and to soak in the peace of the Advent season, I pray that we are able to listen to our own words this year.

As we prepare to move through the season of Advent, I will be focusing on living my life as worship rather than living to check off a to-do list. Over the next few weeks, I will reflect on different portions of worship in this blog and I invite you to follow along and consider how you can slow down and worship God through your own day-to-day life during this season. I pray that as we go on this journey together, we all might find moments of peace, hope, love and joy that will carry us through this joy and grief filled call which is ministry with God’s children!

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M. Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

What Makes You Strong

asphalt clouds endurance grass

We are officially on the ground and running at the Kirk after a longer kick-off season this year, and most of you are likely beginning to find your stride as well. Fall kick-off is an exhausting time which doesn’t provide much of a break until Thanksgiving when pastors might take a day or two to restart and gear up for Advent. For youth pastors, there hasn’t been much of a break since Spring Break (maybe)!

It didn’t take long into my first year as a youth & young adult pastor to not only realize, but accept and act on the fact that there is no way that I can do this alone. Even with a staff of four pastors, there is just too much work to go around!

At first, I figured if I could just plan and prioritize better, I could make it work. I bought a white board and divided it into the four very general sections of my job – youth group, confirmation, young adults, and general. I listed important dates and to-do items on this board. On a smaller board, I kept a daily to-do list. This worked for roughly a week. The problem that I ran into was that my job cannot be generalized. Under the two “simple” titles of youth and young adults, there are many smaller facets which then break down again (and possibly again). The young adults have just as many activities as the youth and require pastoral care in a different way at a different time.

I sat staring at my breakdown of the components of my job and wondered what to do. I remembered that the youth portion was also layered with three or four tiers of leadership which made that side manageable in theory, but what could I do to really strengthen that so that the system was more supportive than “hanging in there”? On the young adult side (which was quickly growing into young adults and families), there was nothing. This is a newer component and was taking a great deal of time with very little support system.

20180921_103245I quickly set to work adding tiers under my umbrella and strengthening those already at work. Youth volunteers went through more specified training at the start of this year, and will do so throughout the year. I asked a variety of young adults if they would be willing to help start a leadership team and we met to plan the semester and then take on leadership if different activities.

All too often, pastors become event planners and spend their time juggling a calendar rather than sitting with people. I found myself growing more and more frustrated with my time behind a computer screen rather than spending time with my people. I also learned that as I was putting these systems in place and strengthening what was already there, I had to be willing to let go and let the system work! When personal stress collided with professional stress in the middle of a meeting, I finally did let go and told my leaders I couldn’t do this without them.

Asking for help in our jobs, whatever they are, is not the weakness that I thought at one point. Asking for help does not mean that we are not capable. Asking for help, forming and strengthening support systems – that is what makes us strong! As I have told each of my leaders, no ministry succeeds if only person is behind it. If we want to anything to succeed, there has to be buy in. Success requires strategic and focused leadership from different angles. If one person leads everything, everything will suffer. If a team leads everything, each person within the team and ministry will grow in a new way!

Christ did not try to minister alone. Christ called a team together who first walked with him and listened before they started to assist and then minister on their own. Finally, when it was time for Christ to leave us the disciples and so many others were ready (even if they didn’t think so) to carry on the ministry.

As the year kicks off and you look at your calendar wondering how to best tackle today, this week and this month, remember that you don’t have to do this alone! Look to your support teams and if you don’t have one, start one. Find those who are invested in the ministry and ask them for help, because that help will only make you stronger!

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div.’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

I am your pastor, but this is MY body

img-20180308-5aa0e00d4e1aeI cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard about inappropriate comments being made to or about my female clergy colleagues, and myself, about our bodies. We are told to dress more conservatively, asked if we are pregnant, receive suggestions about new hair dyes and makeup, and are handed articles about women’s health… just to name a few things. As we focus on finding new ways to share God’s Word with our congregations, our congregations focus on ways to make their female leaders more appealing to look at. Some of my colleagues have even been told that since the congregation hired them, they need to dress and appear the way the congregation says (ie. the way that particular parishoner wants).

The hardest part of this is that as we strive to be professional and kind, we struggle to respond to these comments because we know that our thoughts are in no way appropriate, even if they are in response to an even more inappropriate comment. I am personally incredibly envious of the women who are able to respond with grace and direct attention to the inappropriate comments because all too often we (read: I) just smile, tell you to have a nice day, and walk away as we bite our tongue and seek out a quiet space to let our rage out. We stand off to the side, cleaning up after worship and other programs, listening to what you say and pretending to ignore you while we wonder why you aren’t just talking about the presentation or sermon instead (you are not as quiet as you think you are, and even if you are, we will still hear through the grapevine.)

As I hear from colleagues about their experiences and I think about my own, I have one simple thing to say —

It is NEVER okay to make judgments about another person or to talk about them behind their back, and just because “you” pay “them” doesn’t make it okay.

I love to do prayer stations with my youth and a favorite one focuses on how we are created in the image of God. I encourage the youth to look in mirrors and to see themselves exactly in that way – created in the image of God. How does that change the way they see what they think of as flaws? I then encourage them to look at others in the room and to see perceived flaws (and things they may have recently made fun of) as beautiful and the image of God.

It is important that I do this regularly because, I thought, teenagers are the most critical of themselves and in need of support and reminders of their true beauty. As I think about what both my colleagues and I have experienced, and what so many others (men and women alike) experience every day, I want to encourage everyone to try this.

Go find a mirror and look into it. Look at everything that you think is flawed. See the beauty and power in it, knowing that you are strong and beautiful because you are created in God’s image. Think of someone you recently talked about and see them in God’s image. You can even go another step to let them know you see that they are created in God’s image!

There is no reason that your pastor should spend their free time looking for a new outfit to hide their weight because they overheard, again, someone asking if the pastor is pregnant. There is no reason that your pastor should feel like they need to dull their wardrobe because their outfits are not “befitting” of the office. There is no reason that your pastor should feel “less than” because another person does not like or approve of them because they are not fit enough, pretty enough, modern enough… every single person, including your pastor, is in fact ENOUGH and should be reminded of that instead of what is perceived as a flaw.

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M. Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

When the World Changed

axel-houmadi-325307-unsplash-1400x934Seventeen years ago, our country was shaken to the core as we felt the trembling of collapsing buildings everywhere we were. Our reality shifted, never to be the same again. In the blink of an eye, we came together just as strongly as we were ripped apart.

I reflect on that day spent with my grandparents while I was tracked out of school. I struggled to understand what was going on. I was in 8th grade and knew enough to know this wasn’t good, but also was aware that I didn’t know enough. In the following months, I watched with friends as the world we were only just beginning to understand faded away, as the unity we celebrated dissolved, and as finger pointing, fear, and blame filled the soundbites on the television.

My teenage years were shaped by the immediate responses to the events of 9/11. I vaguely remember a world where everyone was welcome and lived as the neighbors I had learned about in Sunday school. Mostly though, I still struggle to understand how and why the unity in the United States collapsed and turned to fear and hatred so quickly.

As I sit here and remember today, I also struggle with the idea that my youth do not remember. In fact, fewer than five were even alive when the towers fell and brought our unity down with them. I realize that my youth do not have the memories of a united country and instead only know this fear and hatred that has crept in ever since that first airplane struck the tower.

I wonder if our youth hear our tired cries for justice and unity and think that we have given up. I wonder what their vision of unity is, having grown up in such a broken world? I pray that they come to know a world where we do not fear those around us and instead live as neighbors, no longer pointing to the past as an example but living it in the present.

Maybe my memory of what our country used to be is naive and skewed — again, I was only in 8th grade. My heart breaks that those younger than me likely cannot even pull on those naive thoughts to imagine such a place.

God calls us to live as neighbors, to love one another, and to share grace with one another. Somewhere in the back of my memories, I do believe we were once on the verge of such a world. Today I pray that we can all find those memories of days forgotten and strive to live in such a way that we bring back that unity of support and love for neighbor. I pray that our children will grow up in a world where they don’t have to look to a history book to know that even for a brief time, we acted as the Body of Christ. I pray for and long for the day when we can say that we are not only the United States of America, but the United Kingdom of God.

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

You are invited!

invitationInvitations. They fill our mailbox every year, inviting us to weddings and birthday parties, baby showers and retirement celebrations, housewarmings and game nights. Electronic invitations can be sent for free, you can have a mail house do the addressing for you, or make a night of it with a friend as you hand address and lick each envelope. We think nothing of sending invitations when it is time to party – so why do we second guess ourselves when it is time to worship?

There is a billboard in Eastern NC which has peaked my interest for several years now. The congregation renting that space has called out to the masses and invited everyone to join them, “Where you belong before you believe.” I imagine a congregation of individuals of all ages, in out types of outfits, and talking about all kinds of things. I imagine laughter and excitement as strangers become friends, and as friends walk together discerning their faith. This invitation might be a blanket invite, but it is one that grabs attention and makes this pastor very curious.

This past weekend, a group of teenagers knocked on my door. The teens seemed genuinely excited about their church as they handed over a postcard and invited us – NOT to come to church – but to come get a bookbag filled with supplies for the year. They see a need in our community and they want to address it – on a Saturday morning when people of all faith traditions can join together as one community, celebrating another new beginning. Even with no children in need of a book bag of supplies, we were interested in and excited for their ministry.

Sitting at table along a sidewalk in downtown Raleigh, my husband stopped mid-sentence and called out to someone behind me, “Hey! Would you like to have a seat?” I was both shocked and confused (and the introvert in me was a little annoyed) when an older gentleman limped over and sat down with us. Over the next hour, we enjoyed conversation about family, faith, sports, and movies as the sun beat down on us and the server kept our water glasses filled. As we parted ways, we shook hands and wished each other well, likely to never cross paths again but changed forever because of our time together.

Each of these instances have occurred in the last few weeks and had me thinking about how I invite others to the Table this coming year.

When we worship, we may not have balloons and an overflowing gift table when you arrive but we are having a party! We are singing, some are dancing, we are smiling, we are hugging, we are celebrating – even in our grief, solitude, and fear. We are a community of God’s children and we want to welcome YOU! We want to welcome you to worship, to Bible study, to Sunday school, to youth group, to fellowship, and just to BE.

We at least say that we want to invite you. The thought is there! Why don’t we actually do it, though?

We put blurbs in our church newsletters and might even post on Facebook. We encourage others to pass along an invitation while we wait to hear the results. We pray they won’t answer the phone when we call so that we can just leave a quick voicemail and move on.

For most churches, these weeks kick off a new Christian Education year. I challenge you to move beyond the bulletin invitation, only seen by those already in attendance and actually reading what we have edited all week. Call those who are missing. Tell your neighbors about what excites you at your church. Bring a friend to youth group. Invite the young adult down the pew to join you. Look one another in the eye and share an invitation to join together in this crazy journey of life and faith!

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

The Hidden Life of the Transitional Pastor

kiwihug-284614-unsplash.jpgI don’t know if anyone has ever actually written about the non-professional side of interim or transitional ministry – the side that stays well hidden, out of sight and out of mind, from the majority of the world. I don’t know if anyone will ever read what I am writing now. But it is one of those hidden nights – one of those nights when I can’t sleep because of the nature of this fleeting call.

I entered this position knowing the nature of it – I had even been through training for this, but no one can train you for the day that the good-for-now, transitional job becomes the dream job and renews a passion that had been packed away in a tidy little box and hidden in the back of the closet. No course can teach you what to do when the one thing you want is likely the one thing you can’t have in that field of ministry.

I truly admire interim pastors who make a career out of going from one church to another and helping congregations work through loss, grief, discernment, and rebuilding. Only five months into my first transitional position, I know this isn’t for me.

I guess I need to first explain a bit –

My position is transitional. It is interim. It is a filler for two parties – I needed a job as my contract ran out with my previous position and could not be renewed. The church needed someone at the desk and in the classroom until they could conduct a full search for an installed pastor. After interviewing one another (and after they interviewed a few others), we agreed that it was a good fit for the time being. “Transitional” is a fancy word for “interim who can reapply and possibly stay,” but at the same time after a year, neither party would be caught off guard if it is decided that it is not a good fit and the contract isn’t renewed.

Makes sense, right?

Until one party falls head over heels in love with the other. A weird way to describe it, but an appropriate one I think.

I knew I would enjoy the position. It was something I knew I was good at and even better, I would be serving with some fantastic, much more experienced pastors. It made sense.

The first few weeks were beyond rough. Among other struggles, I barely slept and lost all sense of personal life and boundaries as I tried to dig myself out of the chaos I had jumped into (fall in youth ministry is anything but slow and peaceful – if you ever take a youth ministry job, start in December.) I sat down at my desk no later than 8:30 a.m. and left around 5 p.m. on a good day, eating lunch at the desk as I kept working. My days off were spent problem solving from my couch at home. I had it under control though. I had to.

I was also trying to figure out my next step beyond this position. A side-line life I had lived since the beginning of time, it seemed. What college will I go to? What seminary will I go to? Where will I work after graduation? Where will I work when this contract runs out? Where will I go when they find an installed pastor? Every day marking one more drop of sand in the hour glass.

So, I worked until I had nothing left to give at the church and then went home to run a few job searches, update my PIF, and pray that something – anything- would show up.

I took my middle schoolers on a retreat. I took my confirmation class on a retreat. I got my first hug and a “thanks” from a youth. I served communion to a young adult who hadn’t stepped foot in the sanctuary in years. The tireless days were filled with joy and excitement. I began to welcome the interruptions in the office rather than dreading them. I felt myself sliding down a slippery slope and couldn’t find anything to grab onto.

In a position where my job was to get in, help to process and move forward, and get out… I just wanted to stay.

Every part of me ached to be there. Every thought was about five years down the road. Every discussion was closely filtered as I tried to remember my job… as I tried to remember they could still say “goodbye” in only a matter of months.

I struggled as I applied and interviewed for other jobs.

Every conversation was dissected as I looked for signs that I might be able to stay.

This was my dream. These were my people. This was absolutely my call from God. The one I didn’t want to hear, but the one that renewed a deep passion I had hidden away as I tried to “grow up” and move on to “real” ministry.

I went to a conference for my own continuing education. That is where I am while I write this, actually. I came to network and learn better ways to do my job overall – tools I can take to my next congregation (that I don’t want). I bought resources, I signed up for emails, and I got memberships for my congregation in different groups. In the middle of conversations, I found myself beginning to filter again – “I will add this to my resource binder for the next person in this position.” My heart broke. My fears built. The stress began to shut me down. It kept me up at night.

While I was away, my husband attended a young adult event without me. I realized he has found a home. That group is giving him a space that I have longed for him to find. He called me and excitedly told me about what I missed. My heart broke as I prayed we could stay, as I wondered what he would do if we had to leave.

Nothing could have prepared me for when the interim and transitional call became the one and only call that I wanted to accept. Nothing could have prepared me for the tears shed as I wonder if I have any shot at staying. Nothing could have prepared me for how hard it would be to minister to the individuals on the search committee – individuals I have grown to love, individuals I want to be friends with, individuals who I filter myself around and look too deep into what they say to me.

In the office, I smile and do my job. I do it well, too. I tow the party line and joyfully say, “We will have to see what happens!” when someone asks about who will fill the position and if I applied. In the office, I focus on the next hour, the next day, the next week. I don’t talk about the next year – or I at least try not to. I am not supposed to. I prepare a resource binder for the next person to sit in that chair and look over at empty shelves in the bookcase (because why move books in if you are only around for a year?). I set goals with the ministry team for the next transition phase.

At home, at night when I can’t sleep, I pray to God that I can stay. I pray for the individuals I am working with. I cry into the pillow, pleading that this is the last job search – that it is all a formality. My husband, God bless him, does everything he can to keep me sane. He listens to the same monologue about this job search every day – just like he has almost every day since we started dating while I was in seminary. I know it grates on his last nerve. I know he can’t stand to hear “what if” anymore. I know he is worn out with all of the “just in case” planning – for that day when I find out that there is no next step, no job to go to.

We lament the dreams put on hold until a decision is finally made. We wonder if it really was smart to buy a home instead of renting another apartment. We plan vacations, wondering if that will be the last one until another job is found. We avoid vacations because I can’t risk taking too much time away when I need references for other jobs. We wonder when we should extend the geographic area for the job search, risking the loss of his job in the process.

Every bit of it, though, is worth it.

Every step of the way, no matter how hard, is worth it.

I have never understood the “Footprints in the Sand” poem more as I look behind me at so many times when Christ has truly carried me.

When you hear that call though, when you feel that tug on your life so hard that you almost can’t breathe, you do what you have to do. You even stay awake, knowing it was a long day and is leading into another, because you can’t sleep until you write your thoughts down. You write because you can’t tell anyone. You are only transitional. You shouldn’t have these thoughts.

Transitional and interim ministry is so much harder than they told me. There was no class on how to do cope when you become attached. Maybe it would be easier if I knew I couldn’t stay.

Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference. Who knows?

If you have a transitional or interim pastor, take a minute to look them in the eye and look beyond the facade, the protective wall that is put up. Thank them for what they are doing. Take a moment to recognize, out loud, the difficulty of the position and how much it means to the congregation. Those moments might be what save my sanity some days (after causing that wall to crumble a bit first).

Interim and transitional ministry means there is no home, and there is no future. Everything has a deadline, and as my sister said jokingly one day “so, you expire on August 21.”

Ministry in general is an all encompassing, life altering, heart changing, and heart breaking call. No pastor knows what to expect, but some at least can expect more than others.

I don’t know if I will choose to do a transitional or interim call again. I don’t know if I am really cut out for it. I give thanks for those who are! God might have other plans for me, but if I have any say… I am done with this type of ministry and staying right where I am.

I don’t know where I am going from here though and that scares the mess out of me. I pray that I can stay, but I plan to leave.

Why?

Because at the end of the year, there will be no hard feelings if either party decides it isn’t a good fit.

UPDATE: A few months after this was written, the search committee at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church offered the installed associate pastor position and I accepted! I now live my life strengthening relationships and setting five-year goals for the ministries I work with.

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M. Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)