It's a funny thing, this ministry lark. It requires to be taken very seriously, with years of academic and theology study, practical experience, and a deep understanding of God and how to lead others to Him. It's simultaneously a blessing and a burden - it's a calling from God, yet can require almost as much dying to self as parenthood does. God has gifted me with innate talents, which He, humans and learning can help draw out and mould me into someone worthy to do His work on this earth. I am simultaneously part of the church body, with my gifts no different from anyone else, yet set apart in a hierarchy of holiness established by church elders, who discern, with God's help, who will be chosen to undergo ministry training and be awarded the certificate, the pin, the robe, the privilege. I lurch from feeling overawed that God has blessed me in this way, ready to fall down on my knees, to realising that, oh my word, I really do know more than I knew this time last week due to the hard work I have put in on my learning and spiritual journey.
I emerged from an encounter with our new curate relatively unscathed, amused, and reminded that I need to seek humility on this journey at all times. I had returned some books to the vestry; I had borrowed them from two of our qualified lay ministers during the course I have just finished. Our curate examined one of them, whichhe did not recognise, and asked about it. Myself and a colleague discussed it with him, explaining its themes and usefulness. Although he has seen me leading the Pram Service, I'm not sure the curate knows about my/God's plans for my widening ministry (why would he?), so when he asked permission to pose a question, I assumed it would be about my status and role in church, what was around the corner, or something equally important in the spiritual scheme of things.
And this good man, whose sermon that night was amusing AND inspired, turned round to me and said to me in his still-Russian way:
Would you mind telling me what is it, the perfume you are wearing?
Now, don't worry, I know the man's wife and he knows I'm married with 3 kids, it wasn't that kind of question! But it was a gentle reminder - that when my mind is on the Big Things, or what I think are the big things, in life, someone else is seeing the superficial.
And that's okay. Because I don't need to have ego or status to be doing God's work in the world; I just need to be doing it.