Rev. Mark Schultz

Reflections on my journey to Ordination

The ‘call’ for me to the pastoral ministry came over a long period of time. Encouragement came through some people, then by others years later with no connection to the first people and then again by others years after that. It seemed that whenever I engaged in church activities, whether as a youth, young adult bible studies, or my later involvement in various boards and committees within the church, that someone would point out some quality for ministry. I answered all with the same answer – I don’t think so.At that time looking ahead to the possibility of preparing for ministry seemed unattainable, if not impossible, as there were too many uncertainties, so many unknowns. I was a machinist by trade, it was fulfilling work and I was good at, it was secure. To leave that willy-nilly to a new vocation of such importance, uncertainty and consequence was simply out of the question.

The ‘call’ for me did come from the outside, yet it was also inward; I did have a desire to be involved in something with real purpose. It was the questions that held me back, the uncertainty of not knowing for sure. What if I start and find out that I should not have? What if the ‘call’ I felt was just because I was weary of the daily grind in the shop? Did I really have the gifts to be a pastor? Am I academic enough? How was I to support my family? Would my kids suffer and become resentful for this decision? I was, and still am, an introvert. I did not like to stick out in the crowd, or even sit where I will be seen.Now after a ten year journey, what seemed so far off and out of reach happened so quickly. Looking back I can see where God has been with me at every step, and I am weeks away from ordination into the holy ministry of Lutheran Church-Canada; how did this happen?

One day I determined to answer this question once and for all so I went seeking further council. I spoke with a seminary professor about the nature of this ‘call’ and the challenges before me. The advice I got seemed good, he said to ‘start taking courses towards this end’ after all, ‘what could it hurt?’ Keep working towards that goal as long as the light seemed to be green, but if the light turns red then you will know for sure. That resonated well with me, for some of the courses I would have to take as prerequisites was stuff that interested me anyway.

So I began to take one course at a time through distance education while I continued to work. I would keep going as long as the light is green, the education is never in vain, and I will learn something that I did not know before. Courses in history and anthropology soon turned into Hebrew and Greek, and soon produced an application for enrollment and acceptance. I discovered that it was not one giant step, but a series of small steps. Everything else seemed to fall into place and I began full time studies.The short story of it is that I found I enjoyed the new roles I was placed in and I began to grow in ability and confidence. I actually began to like it, not to promote myself, but that I was learning a new skill – and that new skill was receiving positive feedback. The other concerns seemed to be unfounded as well. My children responded positively to the change and, financially, the bank never did completely run dry. Of course, the journey was difficult and has had many bumps, but the light never did turn ‘red;’ in fact I found that the reasons and expectations I had at the start transformed and changed into more than I had anticipated.

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