Now that I am a Reverend-Elect, I thought I would give some advice to all those candidates for ministry in the UM church who are going through the process to commissioning.
1. Plan ahead. It is easy to put your commissioning off. You are busy with Seminary. You have a family that needs your attention. You might be working one or two jobs. If you plan ahead though you can be disciplined with your time. Some conferences allow you to be commissioned half-way through, but they require you to have completed certain classes, know those classes and plan your schedule around them. Also, communicate with your DCOM and let them know your intentions. I met with them over the phone last Spring with the goal in mind to be commissioned this Spring. They would not had suggested it had I not initiated the idea. So, look over the process, put goals in mind and plan ahead. Same thing with finishing up your candidacy stuff. It could take a while to get in for the psychological testing. So plan ahead.
2. Talk with people in your conference who have gone through the process and who are on either the DCOM or the BOOM. My Dad was on the DCOM, and he helped me through the process. I talked to other folks who had been through the process to find out some of the steps of the process. Your journey is your unique journey, but you can learn from others. Don’t do this on your own.
3. Make copies and be organized. DCOMs are notorious for losing material. They didn’t lose mine, but you are responsible for your own candidacy. Get a notebook that has all of your stuff, keep it organized, so that if something happens you have a record of it. Organization looks good when you encounter committees as well.
4. Be confident, knowledable, and humble. The committee wants to see someone who is comfortable talking about faith matters. Whether it be the meaning of the Trinity or your personal prayer life, being comfortable and confident talking about those matters. At the same time, it is important to be humble throughout your interactions with others. While you may be confident in your grasp of theology, the UM Church is full of people who think differently then you do. Acknowledging that others have a different perspective that has validity is an important trait. We will be partners in ministry for a long time, best to work with them now. Having the good sense to listen to their experience and their passion is a wise endeavor, and it will not just help you with being commissioned, but also in ministry.
5. Be authentic. If you have been called to this ministry, God will see you through. God has called you. He has not called your image of what a pastor should be, but he has called you to ministry. Trust that! Be yourself, God calls all kinds, so be authentic to that call, and be yourself in the interview. Of course, you are going to want to be professional for your interviews, but if God blessed you with a sense of humor, don’t be a stiff because you think that is what they want to see. Be the way you were made!
6. Get your stuff done early. Know your paperwork expectations and get them done early, so that you can look over them, proof-read them, and reflect on them. Don’t stress yourself out because you procrastinated, but instead give yourself time to do your best work.
7. Relax. Like in number 5, trust your call. The process and the journey can be an affirming process. People are not out to get you. Let it be an affirming for you. Listen to what people say about your gifts for ministry. Hear their corrections. Enjoy discussing faith and theology. Don’t be so anxious that you can’t enjoy the process, relax and soak it up. If things work out for you, you will only go through the process once! Best enjoy it!
8. If you have any other questions just let me know. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org