What shall I do with my life? | Revd Canon Derek Walmsley | July 2023

So the annual ordination services have taken place and we have another “batch” of deacons and priests serving in the diocese. Could you be joining them in a few years’ time? What would it take for you to offer yourself to explore ordination?

It would be easy to think that each of our new clergy had a special moment when God spoke to them in a clear audible voice - something like the Apostle Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus road. But what happened to Paul was descriptive, not prescriptive. God’s call comes in a variety of ways.

However, it’s true that (like for Paul) the call of God can often come as a surprise. Some of our new clergy would tell you that. It’s actually unusual for God to give a quick answer when we ask anything! If we pray, “Lord, what shall I do with my life?” It’s rare to get a rapid response!

After his sabbatical in 2019, Bishop Nick’s first sermon was at the Chrism Eucharist in Ripon Cathedral, and these were his first words, “Never ever take your vocation – to lay or ordained discipleship and ministry – for granted. For when you do, it will have become a private possession, a personal commodity, an exercise in vanity. The call of God is and has always been very clear: it is not primarily for me/us; rather, it is to me/us, but for the sake of the world and the church through whom the world is to be reached.”

Later he added, “I have come back this week with a renewed conviction that vocation must never become about me, my gifts and weaknesses, my ministry, my needs – unless these are held in the clear conviction (in practice as well as theological or ecclesiological theory or aspiration) that the church and her ministers are called to lay down their life for the sake of the world.”

What shall I do with my life? Perhaps a better question might be, “Christ gave his life for me, so am I willing to do whatever it takes – to lay down my life – for his sake?”

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