I’ve been reflecting on the New Testament text, II Timothy 1:5-7: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (NRSV)
In all honesty, I don’t turn to II Timothy often, but I find these among the most moving words in the New Testament. They were written by a leader for a leader. They highlight the multigenerational aspect of church leadership, both within the family and within the church.
I reconnected with a cousin last weekend. Her father, who died 10 years ago this month, was a pastor and college Bible professor, who took part in the laying on of hands at my ordination 19 years ago. I was moved to pull out the pictures from the service, which I haven’t looked at for years. It reminded me yet again that my call took place within the context of my own family: including my uncle and my mother, a pastor’s secretary in a time when women couldn’t be pastors, and their father, who was a pastor for 50 years.
And of course there were other clergy in the photograph, not to mention all the lay leaders who made a difference for me over the years, before my ordination and since. We are all a product of many influences working to make us who we are. Some of these influences we experience as a source of strength, and we may see others as holding us back. But they are all an opportunity to learn more about how we want to be in our families, in the church, in the world.
Where does your calling come from? Or, as Ed Friedman liked to ask, “Who in your family ordained you?”