Discernment Q&A, Thus Far

I’m not quite half done with these questions – but it’s a process. 🙂  The discernment committee is now reading Listening Hearts, which has another ton of questions along the same vein, although some of them get a bit odd (i.e., Avoid asking questions that presuppose a statement that the focus person has not made. For example, do not ask, “Why are you angry with your mother?” if the person has not articulated that she is angry with her mother. Instead, pose an evocative question such as, “If you try to feel your mother’s presence, what colors come to mind?” or “What kind of music do you hear?”)  I’m not quite sure where that fits, but okay. <grin>

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

What is it that God appears to be doing in this person’s life?  God guides and surrounds my life, reminding me to smile at little things, giving me ample evidence of His presence, and while He doesn’t seem to ask for it – it is a great reminder to me of how blessed I am, surrounded by all of those blessings.  While I always have things that interest me, God can be pretty demanding in His reminders that I gave myself to His service long ago, and I need to actually use the knowledge I’ve been allowed to gain; pass it along; and help His creation.  Ego works in two ways – one where you think you can do anything, and one where you think you’re not good enough.  In either case, ego gets in God’s way – as the saying goes, God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.  I simply have to remember to get my own ego out of the way and let Him work.

What it is that God appears to be doing in your community of faith?  As a community of faith, we have all of the vibrant, active characteristics of a church which should be growing, with a couple of exceptions.  One is that we don’t have a spiritual leader, which tends to be off-putting to those looking for a spiritual home.  We believe that through the actions we take now, we can hopefully increase our membership, both to grow our community and to help take some of the burden from some of the older members of the community, spreading the wealth of service, so to speak, among a wider base.

*What skills does this person propose to offer to God for the purpose of service and the building up the body of Christ?  I believe I have several skills that can be used by the church.  Although not particularly comfortable being the vocal leader of a group, I have leadership skills that hopefully allow people to grow and flourish in their own areas of interest, encouraging each person to achieve the best they can.  I have mediation skills that will hopefully help resolve conflicts both within the community and between those in the community and those outside of it.  I have crisis intervention training, helping me to determine when I can help, and when it might be best to refer to a different type of professional.  I have teaching experience, from young to old, in a variety of topics.  I’m fairly decent at marketing concepts, and writing, getting both the name of the church and our activities out in view of the public.

*In what ways is this person willing to make personal sacrifice in order to serve God and others?  Time, for the most part, along with a certain reticence in both being around people and in being in front of people.  While I am not comfortable in either of those places, I do what needs to be done, both to challenge my own foibles and to fulfill my obligations to the community.

*Does this person tend to monologue or dialogue with God? How about with others?  Yes.  I have been guilty of both but part of that comes from living alone and being both parts of a conversation that happens on a relatively constant basis.  However, I do work on ensuring that I actively listen to what God, and others, have to say, and pausing to comprehend those things before responding.  I have also been guilty of preparing my response at the same time someone else is talking, thus defeating the “active” part of listening.  It is something I work on, rather constantly.

*What is this person’s sense of self? Does this person seem: confident? doubting? aware? needy? dependent? on God? on others? Does the inner life connect or harmonize with the outer life?  While I generally come across as confident and independent, I actually get very nervous appearing in front of others.  I practice sermons several times before acting as lay minister; really dislike speaking in public.  Part of this is as a result of stuttering as a child whenever I had to be in front of people, and having to remember to speak slowly and breathe a lot.  At the same time, I am fairly comfortable with who I am, have no doubt that God will get me through whatever life throws at me, and that “this” too shall pass.  I can be fairly blunt at times, although I do try to temper that with people who don’t know that if you ask a question, you want the answer, and I’m not going to pull punches in answering.  I’m most likely to look for a solution to the problem, rather than talking a problem to death, and believe that if you wish to complain about a problem, you need to also present at least two solutions to consider to solve it.  Complaining really never does any good.  I believe I’m self-aware, as well as being aware of those around me, and hopefully aware that God speaks through people, things, events, books – whatever might get your attention when you need it.  My job is to listen.

What things facilitate his/her relationship with God?  Love of God, prayer, mindfulness, service.

What things interfere with his/her relationship with God?  Love of reading, busy-ness.

Has this person recently had a conversion experience? If so, how is this person sorting his/her religious experience from a call to ministry?  N/A

What energizes or motivates this person?  Ideas, questions, puzzles to solve, ways to serve, rain.

*How does this person envision living out the Baptismal Covenant differently as lay person or as an ordained person? What is his/her understanding of baptismal ministry?  Other than holding an official position, I don’t see how my ministry as a baptized Christian would change.  In declaring my belief in God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – I also abide by the promise to do my best to lead others to their own salvation, challenging them to find the right path for themselves and exploring God’s place in their life.  While the Apostles no longer reside with us on Earth, the Creed that we say each week declares that we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.  To achieve that, we have to help people understand that faith in God will unite us all, and through the Holy Spirit and the Christ, we are all one.  It’s important to emphasize the similarities – and if I drive a Dodge and you drive a BMW to get there, we’re still traveling the same road.  If we were all the same, life would get terribly boring – but if our ultimate goal – union with others in our worship of God – is to be met, we must appreciate the differences and build on the similarities.

*How does this person exercise servant ministry now? How would it be different if ordained?  Currently, I serve as a lay minister, lay Eucharistic minister, lay reader and dirge programmer of music (thank goodness for electronics).  I also put together quarterly schedules, occasionally provide hospitality and manage the church website/blog.  When possible, I represent Holy Trinity with the Troy Ministerial Alliance (they’re a bit resistant – give me time).  If ordained, the title gives a bit more legitimacy among the public, I can actually provide Eucharist services, and I get to say sermons I write out loud.  Hopefully, the existence of an ordained minister will help attract people to attend services and help Holy Trinity grow, leading to baptisms, first communions, confirmations, weddings, funerals and all else that ministers can preside over.  First, however, has to come growth.

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