When I was starting as a young priest, often I would look at those who had been in the ministry for many years and feel so inadequate, with so much to learn. They knew what to do in all sorts of situations that I was just experiencing for the first time. They had answers and insights for conflicts which often left me baffled. Their wisdom and faith was an inspiration to me. Every new situation was such that my own resources led me to rely solely upon a leading of God and those whom God had placed as examples to me.
As I got older and more involved in the life of the church and community I found that more and more I could cope and have something to offer. Experience does help in facing challenges. I had fewer models and mentors, and more confidence and assurance. I had things to offer the people of the church, sometimes it was seen by others and sometimes I simply felt the assurance of my abilities and value in my own understanding.
Recently I found myself moving into a new dimension of my journey in the priesthood, one that is probably not unique to me. There are very few mentors and elders for me to look to for guidance. The confidence I felt has passed with some age, and any list of accomplishments I might post on a resume does not impress me or give me any sense of identity anymore. The words of Scripture were the source and inspiration for what I once wrote and preached. Now they are all I want hold onto, and what I might write or say seems only an interlude or a pause before the need to dive back into the depth found in the stories and life of Scripture. It seems I have so little to say again, compared with the new wisdom of those entering the ministry and those with a drive to engage the engine of corporate ministry.
I find that a simple verse, such as Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation”, will be what I need or which speaks to where I find my confidence.