One of the reasons I called for the election of the X Bishop of Minnesota when I did was to provide space for the discernment of another person to bring their gifts to ECMN and to be blessed as I have been blessed.
It’s hard to leave when you love what you’re doing. However, for me, it’s clear that there is a higher value in creating an opportunity for another to share their gifts.
This is not the first time I’ve found myself faced with such a decision. There have been times in my career when I have held positions longer than I should have.
The key word there for me is is “held.”
I have held on to the position. Partially, yes, I have done so because I enjoyed the work. But if I am completely honest, there was more to it than that. Sometimes we hold on because of the identity or privileges the position provides for us.
Vocation and identity are not the same things. Vocation is a discerned clarity and alignment of our gifts with the work that we do (whether paid or unpaid). When our entire sense of self comes from the work we do, that is over-identification. Similarly, when we move to the place of doing the work for the privileges it brings us, we have lost our vocational way.
I have walked with hundreds of people who are in the midst of discernment and, whether spoken or unspoken, identity and privilege are often presenting issues for consideration.
Who will I be if I let go of this position?
What will I do?
I appreciated theologian Richard Rohr’s reminder in his marvelous book, The Universal Christ: “All of us travelers, each in our own way, have to eventually learn about letting go of something smaller so something bigger can happen.” When we create space for another, it provides an opportunity for all to discern the smaller thing which is leading us to the bigger thing as we follow in the Way of Jesus.We see this in the Gospel according to John: “For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. Jesus must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30).
We are called in the faith and vocational journey to move between discernment, formation, and engagement. The Spirit is dynamic and always leads us forward. Our work is to keep being open and creating space for the Spirit.