When I was younger, I thought that the calling of the Lord was concrete, unchanging, but over the years, the idea behind my calling has changed. I spoke about this a bit when I announced to my church that I would be stepping down from pastoral ministry in order to go back to school and become a licensed therapist. It can be difficult to view calling as dynamic because in a world where things change so much, we desire consistency. We want God and the Kingdom to be consistent.

Yet it is precisely because we live in a dynamic world that we need a dynamic Kingdom. Just consider how much worse it would be to serve a God who never considers the changes in this world? It is not that God is changing the standard of truth or what is right to accommodate us but that God is addressing the ways in which we have changed and grown. It is this idea of being dynamically consistent.

What I was 12 years old, God called me into ministry. At that time, mental health and the idea of therapy within the church was virtually unheard of within public conversation. That was, of course, 2002…which makes me feel old. All I knew was that God wanted me to heal the church. As a side note, I do not believe that I am the sole savior of the church, I just understand it a calling for me to live into while others have other tasks. So I grew in the way that I best knew how. God faithfully ordained and sanctified these choices to help prepare me for more what was meant for my calling.

Then we move to 2012 when I graduated college. My understanding of the church and God had grown significantly and I began to really understand this concept of “the Kingdom of God” in a way that I had never understood previously. I was not the only one. This was a movement within the Western church as we began to see how lacking we were in theological understanding. This put me on a path of healing the church by seeking out Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy (right thought and right practice). I dove into the ancient traditions of the church and discovered a deep well of knowledge and tradition that shaped my life. I began to introduce this new knowledge into the churches that I served. Sometimes it went well and other times it did not. Yet for those who welcomed these old/new ways, they began to understand God in a deeper way as well. I was healing the church, I was fulfilling my calling. While the idea of mental health was growing during this time, it was not until 2018-2020 that our society began to really push the idea of caring for our mental health.

The day I was ordained into the Church of Jesus Christ

Now we are at 2024 and mental health and therapy has become more accepted within our culture. Yet the church is behind. The calling to heal the church has remained the same but the way in which that is taking place is different. That is not to devalue what came before hand. Remember, God ordained and sanctified those choices and I was truly called to the places I served and the ways that I grew. It just means that I am growing. I would not have been ready for this next step if it was not for all that came previously. I would not have been open to stepping into the world of therapy if it was not for the almost 3 years of therapy I had taken myself.

So while God called me in a specific way, the results of that call has grown and developed over the years to address the needs of the culture around me. Now the work is to see how I will merge my ministry as a pastor into the world of therapy. Those two worlds have not always been very welcoming of each other. There is still the thought in some Christians groups that therapy is a worldly way of dealing with issues when you just need to pray harder and be filled with the Holy Spirit. More work needs to be done. There is a need for theologically trained, ordained elders who are also officially trained and licensed in therapy practices. It is more than just pastoral counseling and it is more than just cognitive behavioral therapy. It is a shalom-like wholeness that has developed from the beautiful tradition of this Kingdom of God.

I invite you to join me on this journey as I learn more of the therapy world and process how to merge these two schools of thought into one that glorifies the Lord. I do not know if this will be my “final” calling, it probably won’t, but I am eager to see how this all prepares me for the next steps.

The words that define this season of my life is from Mark 1:15…

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe 
 in the good news.