Mentors through the ordination process
January 11, 2022 / By Brian Lothridge
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2021 Issue II of the Advocate, which focused on the theme of mentoring. Click here to access this issue.
The deacon’s stole was placed upon me in June by Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb. I was ordained, blessed, and sent out to do the ministry for which God had called me.
It was a profound moment. I had arrived at a major waypoint on my vocational journey. I didn’t get there on my own, however. I had great mentors to guide me along the way.
I didn’t get to ordination alone
Ordination can be a daunting process. Mentors guide you through it. They’ve been through the process, know the requirements, and have dedicated part of their ministry to helping people get ordained.
The ordination process takes years. There's a discernment of a call to ministry, an affirmation by the Church, a few years of seminary, a lot of paperwork, showing your effectiveness in ministry, and hours of interviews with the Board of Ordained Ministry. The process is not for the faint of heart.
I had two official mentors through the ordination process. The Rev. Bill Allen helped me to discern a call to ministry and
patiently guided me as I started seminary, became a certified candidate, began leading my first church, and was commissioned for provisional ministry.
The Rev. Bob Kolvik-Campbell was the mentor who journeyed with me during my provisional period, helped me to clarify my call to ordained ministry, and stood with me as I was ordained.
I owe both pastors a great deal of gratitude for their wisdom, compassion, and friendship.
Ups and downs - mentors are there
The path to ordination can be a long and winding road. I enjoyed some parts of the journey, questioned my sanity at other points, and even considered quitting once or twice. Bill and Bob are both excellent counselors. They listened to my doubts, fears, and questions and helped me to think through problems. They reminded me that I wasn’t crazy.
Bill and Bob were also there during difficult times for me and my family. They showed me great care and grace. They became big parts of my support system. I am happy to not simply call them colleagues in ministry but friends.
Ready for interviews
Interviewing with the Board of Ordained Ministry was intimidating. It began as I started checking off the list of requirements, including writing answers to the theological questions. It’s hard work. I wanted my answers to be clear, concise, to demonstrate my ability to think and reflect theologically. I knew my work would be evaluated and be referenced in my interviews.
Bill and Bob read through my papers ahead of time and gave me constructive criticism that made my work better. They also helped me to think through interview questions and assessed my readiness for the interviews. Their guidance helped build my confidence and prepared me well for the interviews.
My mentors were also companions during the interviews. Their support was felt even though they were not allowed to speak during the interviews. They coached me during interview breaks and helped me to feel comfortable during the stressful interview process. I couldn’t imagine doing this on my own.
Ministry is not a solo affair
Ministry can feel isolating. I would not have been ordained without the help of my mentors. Bill and Bob reminded me that I am not on my own. They helped me when I was stuck in the process. They coached me when I had difficulties in ministry. They also challenged me and helped me to grow in my faith.
I hope I have in some way helped Bill and Bob in their own journeys. As Proverbs 27:17 reminds us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” My mentors have made me a better pastor and a better follower of Jesus.
I encourage all who are mentors to ministry candidates: your work makes a difference! You are helping to build leaders who will carry the Church into the future. Your mentoring ministry is a great response to our call to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your work. You are a blessing.