by Rev. Diane Weible
Last week during our Committee on Ministry meeting, one of our candidates spoke about his decision to enter ministry. He told us he had two different career interests–one was to be a pastor and the other was to be an air traffic controller.
It only took a couple beats before just about everyone in the room joined in a chorus of, “They are a lot alike!”
An air traffic controller keeps a lot of planes up in the air and figures out which one is going which way and who has the right to the runway while someone else waits their turn. They have to be looking ahead for planes that may need some extra help or a detour, and be ready at a moments notice to step in and assist for the sake of the safety of hundreds of passengers. When the pilot tells the passengers on a plane that, “we have been cleared for take off”, it is a reminder that someone has looked ahead and behind and checked for possible dangers. Is is the sign that someone has determined that it is time for that plane to take off and soar. Sometimes an air traffic controller hands the care of the plane off to another controller. Everyone also knows that even an air traffic controller can’t control everything that can wrong for a plane, or keep all problems at bay. But, they do their best to anticipate and prepare. And – when it’s time to fly – they offer their blessing and are thankful for their part in setting the plane on its way.
Sound familiar? It is not just the Pastor but all Christian leaders who do a little air traffic controlling now and then. Ministry at its best is filled with so many opportunities and directions we can go, and the call of places we are needed. Knowing where to go and how to get to the right place is a skill–one that ministers and lay leaders alike have worked hard to perfect. Sometimes we don’t all agree on the best path, or it feels like all the paths are fraught with danger. But, the beauty of covenant is that we work together to figure it out. We know that the work God is calling us to, is too important for us not to take the time to plan our path, our direction, and work together to see how and where we are going to go.
Before we are able to hear or utter the words, “We have been cleared for take-off”, for any ministry we wish to partake, we need to look around us for the problems or issues that may be in our way and take the time to address them. We are empowered to turn towards, not away, from the big problems and paths calling us with prayer, covenant, and faith. Because it is God who calls us, and God who goes with and abides by us all.
We look to our ministers and our lay leaders to help us find the visions, identify the important issues to consider, and continue to guide us as we soar with God into new possibilities.
Yes, ministry is a lot like the art of air traffic control. Buckle your seat belts and get ready for take-off.