Written by Rev. Jennifer Hope Kottler, a new member of our Visionary Board. Anyone who tells you that ministry is an easy way to make a living is either a) lying, or b) clueless. There are high expectations and long hours. There is the stress of always being on call. There is the realization that you touch peoples lives – for good or for ill – and that’s a lot of responsibility.
Every person I’ve ever met who explicitly does not go to church has either never gone to church, or has had a bad experience with someone in my profession – and in my generation (late Boomers) – it’s usually the latter. There is usually a story about a minister at a funeral, a wedding, a hospital visit (or lack thereof) or a sermon – who speaks of a God that is judging and damning – not loving and kind. I often wonder if these ministers know how hard they make it for the rest of us, or if they care.
When I was dating (after I had been ordained) it was always a challenge to decide whether I wanted to ‘come out’ as a minister right from the start, or when asked, say something like, “I work in sales for a large multinational organization” (not untrue) or “I do strategic planning and public speaking” (also not untrue.) This is because it was likely that once someone knew what I did and for whom, I would either become suddenly more attractive, or less. ‘Ick’ on both accounts. (Thankfully, I’m happily married and no longer have to deal with these reactions. He’s also a minister.)
So in this season of pride, I want to reclaim pride in what I do and for Whom I do it. I’m not a minister in the traditional sense – I no longer am serving a congregation, and I have spent most of my ministry in non-traditional settings – but I am very much a minister. The pastoral care and spiritual guidance I used to share only with my congregants, I now share one-on-one or over the airwaves. I am a spiritual coach; I work with folks who want to deepen their own spirituality and connection with God. I help individuals discern their true vocation and calling and help them move in a direction that is more joyful, passionate and satisfying. I assist them in becoming who they know God is calling them to be. I have also started a blog talk radio show on the Life Coach Radio Network called, “Spiritually Speaking with Rev. Jen” that airs every few weeks online. This enables me to reach far more people than I could one-on-one.
It’s not been an easy journey – doing this ‘ministry’ thing. But I know that through all the trials, God has been faithful. I know that God continues to call me to do this work because there is more to do. There are a lot of people who need to know God’s love and need to go deep within themselves to tap that which is most essential and most divine. There are many who need to know that not all Christians are judging and damning, and rather that many are loving and compassionate and kind. There are many that simply need to know that there is nothing that they can do to prevent God from loving them – just the way they are.
So truth be told, I’m proud to be a minister, a Christian, an ally and an advocate; the godmother of an amazing same-gender loving young woman; a wife and a coach. It’s a wonderful thing to know that God isn’t finished with me yet.