It’s Not You, It’s Me

The Break Up Staircase?
Image by jasoneppink via Flickr

Raise your hands if you ever used that excuse!
*Raises hand*

Has this ever been true?
It’s the worst break up line, because everyone knows that it’s mostly you. It may be some part of me, but really, it’s you.

Our Annual Conference is next week. It’s the MOST exciting time of the year!

Because the time is approaching closer, I’ve been thinking about the ordination process more. Especially those of us who were unfortunate to not pass this year.

There are many of us who haven’t passed on multiple attempts. And it sucks. It hurts. It’s annoying. It’s every negative emotion we can go through.

But it seems like we seem to be way too quick to blame the BOOM. Granted, we’ve all heard sketchy stories of BOOM members.
At some point, though, don’t we have to really look at us, and see where we might be not communicating our passion and calling clear enough? At some point, don’t we have to look hard into the mirror and really say, well, it’s not you (BOOM) it just might be me, and really mean it?

I was incredibly annoyed that the BOOM suggested, in my first time around (when I didn’t pass my exams) that I was angry towards the UMC.
I was even more angry when the second time around, the BOOM suggested that I go see a professional counselor to see if I may have ADHD.
However, during the interview, I know I came off as a bit of a spaz. The one constant constructive criticism I receive from congregation members about my preaching is, “please talk a bit slower.” I was told that by my speech professor in college. My preaching professor reminded me that I’m not in a race. I’m a fast talker. I’m animated. Add caffeine, anxiety and nerves to that mix, there might be a slight chance that I totally spazzed out and gave someone a “legitimate” concern about my attention span. I still don’t think it was a fair thing for them to say that to me, though.

BUT. I know that I had some role in having someone on the BOOM to reach that conclusion.

I know many of my colleagues who don’t pass and therefore drop out of the UMC system completely. I get that, too. But what about the conversations we’ve had about changing the system? What about the your passion for the Wesleyan theology? What about your energy in really doing something good for our denomination?
Just like that, you quit on us?
Which begs me to ask, how serious were you about your words earlier?

Of course, I’d respect and honor everything someone tells me about their decision to quit the process and the denomination altogether. And they may have real, legitimate reasons to do so.
But I hope they walk away bearing some of the blame, and not completely cast all of it on the BOOM and the denomination and not be so bitter towards the UMC.

My point is, we can’t always walk away blaming someone else for not seeing what we see.
For instance, if we get mad at our church members for not seeing, hearing or understanding our vision, at some point we have to ask, am I clearly communicating the vision for the church?
I feel that the BOOM doesn’t fail anyone for the sake of failing them. They seem to have legitimate concerns about certain areas of the candidate. Whether we agree with them or not, they saw something that we don’t see or don’t want to see.

It’s not always someone else’s fault.
Sometimes, it really is me, not you.

Sometimes, it’s really God saying, there’s more I want to teach you. Or God asking, why do you really want to pass the ordination process? Is it for acceptance? For approval of your peers?  For self-validation or self glory? To prove naysayers wrong? Or is it really because you’re ready to turn your life over into my hands?

I don’t know.
I just know that I no longer see the BOOM as a obstacle to burst through.
I know now that they’re not really my enemy. I’m not saying I view them, collectively, as friends, either.
But, they’re not “against” me as I may have previously thought.

And, I know that sometimes, it IS me. Not you.

6 thoughts on “It’s Not You, It’s Me

  1. Joseph, I’m fairly certain we have never met, but I stumbled upon your blog many months ago and read it occasionally. I feel I can connect with many of your posts, but this one has really moved me. I am recently ordained in the PNW conference and have served for the last year on the provisional team of the BOOM here. The work engaged on that side of the process, for me, was far more difficult than what I went through as a candidate; and when others questioned the team’s recommendations (commissioning or “not yet”), suggesting that we had missed things, were making judgments on age/gender, or had simply made mistakes, it was incredibly disappointing and hurtful.

    I can only imagine the frustration you have felt during your journey, but I am so impressed with your tenacity and commitment to ministry; and with your humility in this post. I only hope that others can read your words and be inspired with a smidge of your character. Thank you.

    1. Elizabeth – I think my perception changed when I started to actually get to know the ppl on the BOOM. I think what stays in our mind, or at least mine, were the horror stories of people who had real negative experiences with the BOOM. So, then I start to think, they’re just out to get me… But I don’t think that’s the case. At least for me, I’m 30. I got plenty more chances coming up. Now, if I don’t pass next year, THEN, it’s the BOOM’s fault 😉

  2. As one who has shared some bumps on this journey (it took 4 interviews for ordination – and a one year extension – grace at its finest!) I do agree with you. Throughout the journey I was at times angry and frustrated, but I tried to understand the suggestions they were giving and to respond appropriately. It wasn’t until after the 3rd time – and a discontinuance – and an extension that I really understood what they’d been telling me over the course of those interviews. I kept thinking I understood, but when I would go back it became clear I had not. Once I understood I was able to do the work they had been asking me to do. To the glory of God I was ordained this year and I pray that the person I am today is only the beginning as I continue to grow and share the love of God in Jesus Christ with the world.

  3. Joseph,
    Thanks for sharing. I found your blog while working on papers for ordination in Western North Carolina. I get frustrated with the process when I look at it as impersonal and judgmental. Then I am reminded that I’m treating the BoOM as a thing rather than a group of people. And that I need to extend grace not just expect it. I appreciate your reflections.

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