Behind the curtain 

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I’m sitting in my office—door closed, sound cancelling headphones on—trying to write this editorial. Notes from a random Bach compilation from YouTube waltz around me as I try to organise my thoughts and make decisions. My office is glass walled, bathed in light, the main furniture being my desk and a bookshelf; the desk littered with paper: letters, magazines from sister publications around the world and other flotsam and jetsam. Nick-nacks, mementos and photos adorn my shelves and windows. Some say a messy desk reflects a messy mind. For me, it is organised chaos. I know where things are (or how to find them) and if my wife visits and takes it upon herself to clean up, I can’t find anything! 

I don’t use the same writing process every time, but when it’s a struggle to write, I have a few things that can help me intentionally focus and zone in, shutting out the world and distractions of the office. 

Today is one of those days. I know what I want to try to do, but the attempt feels so hard. I’m feeling so much but struggling to articulate it.  

These days, less of my job is about writing than you would think. When I dreamed of writing as a younger person, I didn’t think about the correspondence and the decision making this job would entail. 

One of the decisions that comes up from time to time is whether to honour an author’s request for anonymity. As a general rule, and as someone who understands the power and credibility that can come with attribution of personal content, I try to discourage it, if at all possible. But there are certain instances where it is necessary. 

We recently published the article “I missed my call to ministry”. Here the author wrestles with a refused or unacted on call. It is a moving, personal piece that would create discomfort and difficulty for the author, if his identity is revealed.

I can feel his anguish through the page. I encourage you to read it. I often don’t point out content in the magazine but I’m drawing your attention to this piece because I want to write about calling. The word has a unique meaning in the Christian faith and while some may use it to refer to the activities or career they feel “called” to do, it is most associated with a call to pastoral ministry. 

God calls all of us to follow Him and yet only a relatively small percentage of our people are called to full-time pastoral ministry. Having said that, I believe the “gut-wrenching experience” of waiting for God to show up is one many of us will experience in our lives. 

The past few years have especially been trying for me. 

I’ve always practised an openness in my writing—in sharing my life and God’s impact in it. Yet it is hard to share the doubt and questions I’ve had in the past few years. I will say that I have always believed God has had a hand in my career. I’ve had a calling to this ministry of print if you will, but there are days you doubt the calling, even when following that calling.

You question if God really called or was it your own pride or insecurities that led you here. You question what’s next when God hasn’t told you to move, or you want to stay in the same place when God does tell you to move. You feel inadequate, under appreciated. That’s why the piece was impactful for me—I could relate to the struggle. That’s why I think this piece has something for everyone. 

Today I’m giving you a peek behind the curtain of some of the processes and doubts I wrestle with. I am human, you are human. But we serve a loving, patient, merciful God. What are you wrestling with today? Can you surrender it to God?

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