Thursday, July 08, 2010

Things for the Future

by Scott Dalen

Things on my mind today. Curiosity about the future is the main thing...although curiosity isn't really the right word. It might be better to say that I'm stressing about the future. My very human mind is trying to understand/plan for what I feel that God is calling me to.

Allow me to elaborate. Those of you that have been following my little rants know that I'm currently a DL student. Taking classes online from home and traveling to campus a couple times a year for a couple weeks at a time to take intensive classes. This has been a great experience for me so far. It has allowed me to continue working and not uproot my family for a move to St Paul. For the past two years it has been manageable and has worked very well.

However, each time I've gone to campus, its gotten harder and harder to come back into the grind. A month ago I had conversations with several of my classmates about this situation. They commented back that they think I belong in the academic lifestyle...aka, they think I should go full time.

I've been thinking the same thing for awhile as well, so it didn't come as a great shock to me. Additionally, I've also been feeling called into beginning ministry work now, while still doing DL. To explain, the difficulty that I feel right now is a desire to move into ministry as opposed to working in the private sector as I do now. That could be in a full time ministry setting or it could be going full time to focus on seminary.

The opportunity may be presenting itself. I've mentioned before that I'm expecting to do an extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) this fall. As I look at the requirements for the program, it will involve me doing approximately 15-20 hours per week of "clinical work." This clinical work can be based in a congregation which is what I'm hoping will happen.

My home congregation is actually in a unique situation now, having recently lost our associate pastor. This provides a unique opportunity both for me as well as for the congregation. I am able to help fill that void and the congregation is able to offer me a setting in which I can fulfill my CPE requirements.

The kicker becomes available time. As I mentioned, right now I'm working full time...40 hours a week. I do contextual work (at the church) though this would fold into the clinical work (and so is a bit of a moot point). I also do my online classes, which pretty well fill up the evenings during the week for me. Add on top of that something of a family life and I'm wondering how I'm going to manage to shove in another 15 hours a week. I suppose I could stop sleeping, but I'm already short on that as it is.

And so I'm discerning. Is is time for me to quit working and focus on ministry? Can I do so? Will my family make ends meet? The questions are endless. But at the same time I keep hearing "I've got this...just trust me." So I'm trying my best to trust and see if the pieces will all fall into place. Maybe waiting to see if the pieces fall into place isn't really trusting...but I'm trying.

In other is registration day for the fall semester. We register online, and its really a pretty simple format. Log in, click on registration, click on the right semester, type in the class code numbers...done. Registration opens at 7:45 so by about 7:47 I had it all done. I get a kick out of registration day because there are several different attitudes within my cohort towards registration. Some of us want to get it done right away...others take their time.

Obviously I fall into the "get it done" category. Another one of my cohort members does the exact same thing. I think we both stare at the clock and the second registration opens, we log in. I've gotten in the habit of looking at the available seats in classes and if any of them are taken, I shoot her a text along the lines of "I see you've registered already." Then we banter back and forth for a bit.

Today was no exception.

Some of my classmates have keyed into the fact that I'm Johnny on the spot in terms of registration. A year ago, one of the guys was going to be gone on a fishing trip and he asked me if I would log him in and register for him. I said wasn't any huge deal to do so. Today, that same situation happened again. One of my other classmates shot me a text a little while ago and asked if I could register her and she is out camping with no available wi-fi. I said sure so she called me up and I knocked out her registration as well.

I'm starting to see a trend here. Weird.

In terms of registration, I'm went ahead and registered under the pretense that I won't be working this fall, allowing me the opportunity to do CPE and still take 2 classes. Throw in the mix my contextual requirement (which will piggyback my clinical work for CPE) and I have 4 things on my registration list. They are:

Clinical Pastoral Education-Extended (which basically informs the seminary that I'm taking it)
Teaching Congregation and Community-contextal requirement in the congregation
Lutheran Confessional Writings-a study of just what it says
Prophets: A Survey- a study of many of the Old Testament prophetic writings

Confessions is the one up in the air right now. If I continue working while doing CPE, I'll be dropping it and only taking Prophets. But that all remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the course of the next 6 weeks.


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