Having been unemployed for months at a time over the past few years, I have taken part in more than a few interviews for pastoral positions. In these interviews, there is always one question that flummoxes me more than any other, and that is when a search committee asks me what I'm passionate about, or what I feel called to, or have a heart for, or any Christian-ese variant of the question. And I totally understand what they are asking when they pose such a query, and I know what response I should give, that I am passionate about this aspect of faith or the other, that I feel called to serve a particular community. It's a standard question to ask any pastoral candidate.
My answer? "..." Confounded silence.
The easy answer would be to say that I have a heart for two things: to help the church reclaim a biblical theology of suffering, and encourage us also to embrace our calling to racial reconciliation. That is what I have found myself doing for the last four years, and is probably the kind of answer that the search committee is looking for. But there's a reason why I don't simply blurt such an answer.
You see, I never really had a passion for those who are suffering, nor for multi-ethnic ministry. That's not to say that I'm against either in any way, because they are incredibly important movements of faith. It's just that I didn't have any natural or personal inclination towards those ministries. I had no internships at inner city churches, never attended a multi-ethnic church conference, never scoured academic texts in search of the answer to the problem of pain. I always thought my passion and heart were in music and leading worship, more than anything else.
The reason ...1