Next Steps

Next Steps

One of my core understandings of God is through the concept of call. I believe that God calls to us, speaks to us, invites us into relationship and invites us into action. God invites us to build God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

This concept of call is not new. I believe we can trace this back to the opening words of the book of Genesis where God calls the universe into being and the universe responds! God calls the light and the land, God calls plants and stars and birds and wildlife, and life bursts into being. And God calls the first humans into existence—in God’s own image—and breathes into us the inspiration of God’s Spirit to bring us to life.

We are built to respond to God’s call!

We have spoken about the Pentecost work we must do in the face of the profound pain we can see in the world. Many have asked me what specifically each person must do to engage in this Pentecost work, and I confess I do not have that answer. For each of you who wonder that same question, I do not believe your leader, your pastor, your friend, your mentor… I do not believe anyone has the answer to that question for you. I think that question must be yours to answer.

But that does not mean that you are alone.

Because I do believe that your leaders, your pastors, your friends, your mentors… I believe that we are here to encourage you and challenge you and guide you and support you along your journey to discover what and who God is calling you to do and be. Your call from God is as unique as you are. Perhaps—as Pastor Lydia noted among clergy—it is your “schtick.” You might use tools like prayer, conversation with a friend or mentor, a spiritual gifts survey (https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/spiritual-gifts-inventory), or some other tool to help guide you along the way.

Have the courage to take these steps even if you do not know where they will lead. Have the courage to go to unexpected places, figuratively or literally, and discover that in doing so you are responding to God’s divine call.

You are created in God’s image and empowered by God’s Spirit! Go! Take the next step!

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (CEB)
Jesus traveled among all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, announcing the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.”

He called his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to throw them out and to heal every disease and every sickness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, who is called Peter; and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee; and John his brother; Philip; and Bartholomew; Thomas; and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean; and Judas, who betrayed Jesus.

Jesus sent these twelve out and commanded them, “Don’t go among the Gentiles or into a Samaritan city. Go instead to the lost sheep, the people of Israel. As you go, make this announcement: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, and throw out demons. You received without having to pay. Therefore, give without demanding payment.

Resource for Next Steps:https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/spiritual-gifts-inventory

Consider these questions:

  1. What’s something in the world that you think needs to be addressed? If it’s something systemic (i.e. something that has to be addressed on a large scale), think of this as it is, but also think of it in terms of something one person can do.
  2. Have you held this in prayer? Have you asked God about it? Have you listened for God’s response? If so, how do you understand God’s response? If not, what might be preventing you from praying, asking, listening, hearing? What tools or resources can you find to help you pray, ask, listen, hear?
  3. What commitment are you willing to make in response to these questions? What are your next steps?

Post-Worship Update on 6/16

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

Sunday’s message was intended to inspire you, dear friends, to explore your next steps; to explore your next options; to consider how God might be calling and empowering you to move further into participation in the building of God’s Kin-dom.

One resource I noted was the Spiritual Gifts Inventory, available from our global denomination. This is one tool to help you discern where you might be gifted, guided by Paul’s list of spiritual gifts. Of course, this is not enough. And I don’t think it likely that there is one person who can help you find what your giftedness and your call might be. You must enter into this with the understanding that this is hard work that is the beginning of more hard work. Do you think that building God’s Kin-dom will be easy?

Sure, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Is it possible that the strength He gives us is because the work is hard? Is it possible that the strength He gives us is because the laborers are few?

Prepare yourself! Do this good work knowing that you do not work alone! Engage and commit fully because you know that God called you to! Move out of your comfort zone into the new thing that God is already doing!

Walk on, dear friends. Take the next step of the journey. Invite others to join you. The harvest is bigger than you can imagine…

Consider these questions:
I would like to ask you to complete the Spiritual Gifts Inventory linked above. This is an 80 question inventory that—I hope—will help you see where you are exhibiting God’s gifts. I would also invite you to consider this a snapshot in time. When you feel as though you may be called to something else, come back to this inventory to see what has changed!

  1. How long did this inventory take? Was it difficult? If so, what was difficult? Did you find it easy? Did you find it worth the time spent?
  2. What did you learn about yourself? Where does the inventory indicate that you are gifted? Do you agree?
  3. How does this inform your understanding of God’s call for you? Where do these results fit (or not fit) with something in the world that you need to address?
  4. What are your next steps?

One Comment

  1. David DeBus

    Matthias substituted for Judas Iscariot.

    This passage names Judas as one of the 12.

    I have been called. I told you.

    It was four-five years ago. I went to the Glendale UMC August 20 Discernment session. At the end of the day, I learned that people age 70 or 71 are required to retire.

    Recently I was reading a wonderful book about John wesley. It began with a speech from him at age 88. Now that we are living beyond 70, and often without dementia, I endorse a movement to encourage late-life recipients of the call to become pastors.

    I have been “going into the places” by being a psychologist who works with spiritual and religious people and people who are creative. I consider that my writing as a writer of hymns and poems is also a response to this call. I have been trained in public speaking. I have been consulting a ualitifed spiritual director in the Jesuit heritage on the subject of following my call. I considered crossing over to the Episcopal denomination for training in ordination.

    To me, this passage is about not having to be qualified to spread the good news. That we are commanded. I feel commanded. I heard Bishop Swenson in a moment when I was alone and by myself tell me what I had heard so often at Annual Conference: “Take authority.” I knew it was a call right away.

    If this ageist restriction on becoming a pastor does not change, I shall not be embittered. It is really up to God. I see the lost opportunities not just for me but for many, comparable to the lost opportunities for women who were not ordained until Faith Conklin. I shall seek out the meaning of my vocation and serve it until my brain or my body give out.

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