Lessons from Five Years of Ordained Ministry

Heidi Carrington Heath
4 min readDec 6, 2020
Photo Credit: Shachmut Photography, my ordination at Old South Church in Boston, MA

Today marks my fifth anniversary of ordination to ministry. I have been called to ministry for over half of my life. I can hardly remember a life in which this thing that has pulled me, and shaped my heart for so long did not have a grip on me. While I have served the church for much longer than five years, I have been reflecting on what these five years of ordination in particular have meant to me. They have been harder, more humbling, more beautiful, more tender, more holy, and more painful than I ever could have imagined. They have been everything and nothing like I thought they would be all at once. In it all though, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

In that spirit, here’s a little bit of what five years of Rev. in front of my name has taught me. Some of these will feel specific to ministry, but some of them are not. May they speak to you if you need them, wherever you are.

  1. My spouse taught me a while ago that the words “integration” and “integrity” come from the same latin root meaning whole. It is perhaps the deepest work of our life to know who we are, and whose we are (and not to forget it). Unabashedly seek your own wholeness, and help others find theirs.
  2. Years ago, my friend Janessa, said to me: your call to ministry belongs to you, and to God. No one, anywhere, no matter how powerful, can take that away, tell you what it is, or tell you what it is not. May you know it deeply.
  3. You cannot be all things to all people. It is a mirage. Don’t chase it.
  4. It is your job to help people grow closer to God and to bring about the kingdom. It is not your job to make people happy. Write that one on a post-it note for easy reference.
  5. People will love you and people will hate you, and it will have nothing (literally nothing) to do with you.
  6. Serving God and God’s people is not always the same thing as serving the Church. In fact, more often than not, this is true. When in doubt? Come back to the texts written on your heart, the wisdom of your mentors, and those who anchor you. You’ll know what to do.
  7. Not every colleague in ministry* is helpful or healthy relationship for you. Read that again. There is sometimes an unfair expectation that all of us are to be in equal…

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Heidi Carrington Heath

The Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath (she/her/hers) is a preacher, teacher, activist, writer, holy mischief maker, and proud queer femme.