I had a revelation the other day: My ministry is a grumpy teenager.
For people new to my blog, I should mention I am an ordained clergy person in the United Church of Christ. I also teach yoga and meditation and do leadership and organizational development and am a small business owner (more on how that started later).
My ministry will always be anthropomorphized in my brain because my nephew was only 6 months old on the day of my ordination — Oct. 31, 2004. The picture on this blog page of me holding him in front of the church always springs to mind when I reflect on how God has called me in the ensuing years. Now a senior in high school, my nephew is like many teenagers — bored and disaffected by much of life. He’s appropriately skeptical of many things, but doesn’t have a sense of how to make anything better or where his gifts/skills belong in that. Reflecting on these behaviors, I began to notice some parallels between adolescent development and the work I now feel called to do.
A few years ago — after many disappointments in my ministry career as a denominational executive — I tried to figure out what was next. I saw all the flaws, all the problems, all the dysfunction of aged institutions. I was exhausted with trying to make change within them. Still, I knew I was called to something. But what?
I began to contemplatively explore bringing together my passions for yoga and meditation as well as organizational and leadership development. This moment of revelation was the flash-point that sparked the idea for my business, but I wouldn’t see that clearly for many more months. I kept dropping a question about my next steps in ministry into meditation and prayer. Some days, I got what seemed like nothing. Other days, flashes of words, images, ideas would emerge. Eventually, it landed on some hard truths and inspiration for the future. (Read more about that phase of the process in another post, “Healer: An Origin Story.”)
The reality was that my work within the “traditional” structure of the church would not accommodate my vision to combine mindfulness with leadership and organizational development — at least not in the way I wanted. Like a teenager, I had to grapple with feelings of exclusion and hurt for a while. But once I worked through those feelings, I felt freed. I could build my own space for the ministry I felt called to do without having to butt heads with the traditional structure at every turn.
I would instead build a new business formed from a new community of leaders. Yes, it would include leaders from the church, but it would also include anyone else who wanted to dive deeply into radical self-care, discover their purpose, serve the good of their business/organization/congregation and community, and live life in a way that transforms from the inside out.
As my ministry turns 17, I like the idea of embodying the gifts of a grumpy teenager. It brings me such great joy to channel my skepticism, boredom and exclusion into creating a life-giving community for myself and many others to grow and thrive. Even with all the struggles, I would say yes to my ordination vows all over again. I am called to serve: bringing what’s wonderful about spiritual/religious community and making it accessible to a broader audience.
Join me in celebrating: Are you feeling more dread than excitement for the holidays?
I have six opportunities for you to recharge your batteries and tune into the meaning of the season.
- Nov. 26, 1-3 p.m. EST – Breathing, Not Buying: Alternative Black Friday Restorative Yoga/Meditation
- Nov. 28-Dec. 19, Sundays, 7:30-8:30 p.m. EST – Sparking Hope: Mindful Advent Yoga Series (donation class!)
- Dec. 31 1-3 p.m. EST – Starting with Hope: New Years Eve Restorative Yoga/Meditation