Launch & Lead Alum, Ben Floyd
As my family and I sit in the midst of boxes and pictures taken off the walls, we’re able to take some time and reflect on the last 4 years and how God works in our lives in ways that are often beyond our understanding. My upcoming appointment in the UMC in Todd, NC, is a sure sign of God working in us and through us. I will be serving as campus pastor of Blackburn’s Chapel, connected to Boone UMC. Along with this privilege I will also be serving as executive director of a non-profit that seeks to build community through listening, presence, and working with an intentional community of 3-4 young people who seek to live into their calls as disciples and disciple-makers in rural ministry. I can’t help but see this placement as being related to the work and formation I’ve been a part of through the Missional Wisdom Foundation. It was at the initial retreat for my Launch & Lead cohort four years ago that God spoke to me in a voice that was unavoidable. His call to me and my family was clear after that weekend – we were meant for ministry, more than what we were doing at the time. For me, that call took the shape of seminary and candidacy in the UMC for ordination.
Beyond this, though, the MWF helped me (and continues to guide my ministry) in seeing the need for both action and contemplation in answering God’s call. A person who stays active in service but loses that deep, intimate connection to God will be drained and ineffective in short order. On the other hand, we can’t focus only on living a life of contemplation. Our centering in God, times of prayers, living lives of accountability in some type of Christian community should be places of transformation and renewal so we can then answer the Holy Spirit drawing us into the world to do the work we are called to. This dynamic of action and contemplation has been one thread of my work with the MWF that will always stay with me.
Context is key to grace-filled ministry. We have to be able to see the needs around us and bring the Good News to the folks we live with, shop with, mourn with, and sing with. Jesus is both eternal and contextual; his truth can be expressed and modeled in ways that people can understand without dilution. No matter what difficulties we face in ministry, I feel as though the wisdom of my advisor (Dr. Tom Elliott of Candler School of Theology) rings true in any situation. “Love your people,” was his advice to new seminarians in his care. This simple saying is also one of the more difficult calls that Jesus places on our hearts. This radical love is both contextual and eternal and keeps us connected to the One who gives life when we feel drained and tired. Disagree, hold fast to our beliefs and understanding of Scripture and tradition – above all else, we are called to love. I pray that God will continue to bless us with hearts shaped by holy love and grace.