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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
              Wednesday, October 24 2001 

Memoirs—nudging versus calling

Continuing last week's answers to questions about my earlier career in the ministry....What about the person "nudged" into a ministry without a strong personal conviction about it?

Everyone's "mileage" will vary because the permutations and individualities are endless. Yet there are some patterns that could be discussed and the question gives me an opening to mention one of my favorite movies, Saturday Night Fever. The leit motif in that 1970's top movie at the boxoffice and in social impact that redeems it is the younger brother of Tony Manero (the central character, played by John Travolta) who comes home from seminary and declares he's abandoned his priesthood track to the dismay of his mother, especially, who apparently had his life all planned out for him.

It's a safe bet that whenever a parent or parent figure tries to manipulate a youngster into a course of action, that effort will sooner or later backfire. It has something to do with the long-known "folk wisdom" that the best way to assure your daughter or son will take up with the wrong partner is to point out to him/her how "wrong" the other person is for your offspring. Every child with half a backbone likes nothing more than proving himself capable of succeeding despite his/her parents' opinions. Especially in the case of ministry, my opinion is that it should never be coerced or imposed through tricks or chicanery. A minister whose first devotion is not serving God is deluding himself primarily and trying to delude everyone else who knows him or her.

I probably encouraged the question because I said I had been "nudged" to think of the ministry from early childhood. Other than having a precocious interest in church services, hymn-singing (even to the extent of "playing" church with the neighborhood kids), and gathering the leftover Sunday bulletins to use in that, I early felt that the "best" thing anyone could do is dedicate himself to God's work. Mr. Fargo (my first minister, described last week) probably suggested it by asking from the time I was old enough to answer the question without being able to think through it, whether I'd like to be a minister when I grew up. But my mother also led me to know that there's nothing less desireable than a minister who's chosen that course for himself rather than being chosen for it by God.

Years later, I recall hearing a sermon by the Altoona minister who's considered the founder of the Evangelical Methodist denomination (whose name escapes me at the moment) in which his main point was: "If you can do anything other than go into the ministry, by all means choose the other thing!" I still say Amen to that.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Answers to computer class test questions in a South Carolina High School (last in series):

ROM - Where the Pope lives.

Screen - Helps keep the skeeters off the porch.

Serial port - A red wine you drink with breakfast.

Superconductor - Amtrak's employee of the year.

SCSI - What you call your week-old underwear.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people—and this is not learned in five minutes.

—Oswald Chambers

Sent by Judy Martin

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