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My Mixed Feelings about Ordination

How could I know if ordination was the right step for me?

My home church ordained me in 2004. It was called a “commissioning service” as I was the first woman to participate in this ceremony and none of us wanted this special moment to spark division in the church. On the day of the service, my pastor approached me apologetically.

“We’re going to have to get you a new certificate,” he said.

“No problem,” I replied. “Did you misspell my name?”

“No,” he grinned, “We printed the certificate that we have on file, and all the pronouns are masculine.”

A big grin spread across my face as I asked him if I could keep both certificates. I wanted the reminder that I had come a long way and that our church had come a long way, too.

I also wanted the reminder that I am more than my pronouns, and I am also less than my pronouns. I am both more than my titles and less than my titles. I am both a leader and a follower. I walk in the tension of dying to self and living to the glory of God. Ministry definitely brings both life and death, both joy and pain.

Throughout the past 20 years of ministry, I have held the titles of intern, resident, pastor, director, minister, and pastor’s wife—and I have likely been called much worse! Through it all, I am thankful for the words of my Dad. No matter what I do, no matter who approves or who struggles with what I do, may my heart always say, “Just call me Dori.”

How to Know If You Should Be Ordained

Anyone considering ordination may have some of the same questions I faced: What are my motives for being ordained? Is this the right next step for me? So I offer these five questions to help you assess whether ordination is the next step for you:

1. Can you describe a sense of a “call to ministry?” This may not be an altar call moment, but it needs to be a prompting from the Holy Spirit, confirmed be Scripture, and more than just, “I think I’ll give this a try,” or “I’m good at this, so I’ll do it,” or “I like how ministry makes me feel.”

2. Have you spent time studying the history of ordination? It’s important to know for yourself where ordination comes from biblically and what it looks like in different churches. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive study, but you should know what it means to you and why you are asking to be ordained.

February22, 2018 at 8:00 AM

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