Wisdom on Authenticity and Resilience from New Elders (Part 2)
Bishop Julius C. Trimble is the Resident Bishop of the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church.
Bishop Trimble has the personal mission to encourage all people with the love of Jesus Christ to rise to their highest potential. It is his commitment to his personal mission that led Bishop Trimble to create the “To Be Encouraged” Podcast along with co-host Rev.Dr. Brad MIller.
Bishop Trimble says, “I am compelled by Jesus to share with you an encouraging word or two about Jesus, theology, the Bible, the pandemic, the environment, racism, voting rights, human sexuality, and the state of the United Methodist Church.”
To Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble is to be published weekly and is available at www.tobeencouraged.com and all the podcast directories.
Rev. Keith Turner
Rev. Hannah Wiswasser
Rev. Don Zlaty
And yet we now enter ministry you're going to do with real life now. And Bishop, I want us to go there for a minute here, of can you just kind of share what kind of, from your perspective? What do you want to learn or want to ask these elders in terms of entering ministry in or in elder ministry as an elder United Methodist Church, and the times we live in, you know, we live in a time that is incredibly challenging in society, you know, with political issues with racism, with the shootings, or off just all kinds of stuff. And then And then, of course, we've got the situation our own United Methodist Church with, with what we have going on here, with our United Methodist Church with just affiliations and things like that. Yeah, the question is, Bishop, I wanted to see what you want to ask Keith and Dawn and Hannah about entering ministry as elders during these challenging times, both in society and on our United Methodist Church. What would you like to ask them aboutBishop Julius Trimble:
that? Well, let me just I just like to initiate a an open ended question. First of all, I want to say this is my 15th years as a bishop in the United Methodist Church, 40th year in ministry. I was ordained a deacon, while in seminary, I don't know if in 82, Brad was ordained Deacon while we were students, at Garrett. But the world has changed so much since then. Yeah, the world has changed so much since then. Now, for example, sometimes people don't give the kind of deference and respect to clergy persons, that even they did. When I first began ministry. People, people, there's a tendency for people to want to be satisfied. And people to want want to have things the way in which they think they ought to hip ought to be or they have been in the past. I think the question I have is, how do you live with a sense of, you've heard this word used a lot in recent years with a sense of authenticity, you're being true to who you are, who God has called you to be? And how do you also kind of build and nurture resilience? So you're not in the opposite, you're not in the business to, to, to offend people, you obviously want to lead with healthy relationships with those that you're in ministry with. But I want to and I say that by way of encouragement, that I think that being your authentic selves, and understanding that people, you know, people, you never know what other people are dealing with, when they are when they're, when they're encountering you are when you're leading them? How do you leave with a sense of authenticity? And what do you do to kind of build a build a spirit of resilience, particularly in the times in which we live now? The world that the world, the country seems so divided, in many respects, the world often seems to be at war with itself or people are individually at war with themselves. And yet I think people are hungry, hungry for healthy spiritual relationships, and a healthy spiritual church experience. And let me just say this by way of affirmation as well. That all three of you, if I was told that as a bishop of Brad, you would not be able to get to know people, your pastors because you have too many pastors, that too many lay people. And you know, you're just one bishop and they won't they won't know you and you won't know them. And I found that not to be true at all. Don's Lady, I have specific memories of all three of these pastors. Don slatey. I asked Well, I remember when Dr. Fulbright's first installation service for for first first district assignment, and Don did music and I remember asking Don and his wife to do music for me when I was recording during the pandemic time. First the first season of the pandemic for Christmas service. I believe it was a Christmas or Easter, sir, I can't remember. And Don and his wife did the music. He may not remember but I remember that. In the case of Keith, I remember Keith at the University of Evansville, the cabinet spent like three days and Evansville doing ministry and context. And Keith was lead worship at the University of Evansville. And I said, Be great. And I was told by that time, Dr. Tammy, that well, he's not he's not he doesn't belong to us right now. He's working in University of Evansville. And I said, Well, maybe not today, but I just see God has in the future where he'll be part of this conference. And sure enough, he's been faithful and God and Hannah may not remember this, but I have a vivid memory of this because I was just confessing not long ago, Brett. How guilty i was feel Dealing dealing with the Uvalde shooting. Because I had I had already forgotten that we had a mass shooting at Federal Express here in Indianapolis. We it happens so frequently that you forget when something like this happens. And reason I'm mentioning Hannah's because we had a service at Plainfield, which I thought was a very moving service of the meant and, and prayer and comfort. And she was a major part of that worship service. So I see that the three of you now back to the question that was so long ago, I asked was, how do you bring your authentic selves, the ministry at this point in your life, and also build in a sense of resilience? While you want to obviously you want to respect the people you work with? It's not about just getting people to do what I say. But how do you how do you come to ministry with your authentic sales? And and what do you do in terms ofBrad Miller:
the question is about authenticity? Yeah,Keith Turner:
sure. Um, you know, when we prepare for ministry, I always chuckle because we all have kind of that ideal preacher image, that ideal pastor image, you know, and it doesn't matter if you're the most conservative Evangelical, or the most progressive, liberal, we all have our preaching celebrities that we look up to, and we admire and we try to emulate and copy and and it's just realizing that the longer I'm in that I've been serving in ministry, that God has not called me to be Barbara brown Taylor. God has not called me to be Tom long. God has not called me to be Nadia, bolts, Webber, I don't have enough tattoos. But truthfully, you know, you realize that with time that the voice God has given to me starts to blend with God's voice for God's people. And so bringing my authentic self to ministry is really just a growing exercise that takes time. And for those who are listening, who may be considering and discerning a call to ministry, give yourself grace, give yourself time, and continue to be shaped by who the Holy Spirit has created you to be and called you to be in terms of building up resilience. And being a resilient presence. The first thing that comes to my gut is self care. There is no better way to build up resilience than to take care of yourself. My resiliency suffers when I realized that I've been neglecting what my body, my soul, my mind, my spirit needs. And so I am a huge advocate and proponent for self care, even though I can preach it all day long. It's sometimes hard to implement in my own life, but that's the only thing that I can come up with in terms of building that resilience, genres,Brad Miller:
authenticity and resilience.Don Zlaty:
All right, well, I think being authentic, is how you remain true to your call, and what I mean by that. For a while I kind of what Keith was saying, I struggled. Because, you know, everybody was fancy talkers. And you know, they had the, you know, they could prayer, pray the dickens out of stuff. And just, you know, it was like, you know, it was, it was amazing, and I felt, these are all qualities that you know, you can learn, I want to be like this guy, or I want to be like this person or whatever. What I came to understand was that God had called me for a specific purpose. And just like he's called everyone he's ever called for a specific purpose. And that was not to change my voice it was to, to show God's love and grace and with through the Holy Spirit, pushing out from me, I think to be authentic. You have to be who you are. Especially when it comes to talking to people in this world that are not necessarily in line they don't, they don't understand about God's love, they don't understand about, you know, who Jesus is, or, you know, the, they blame, you know, the church for all his brokenness and etc, etc. to be authentic, for me meant understanding that we are sometimes most of the time in a broken place and and if we don't allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and we don't allow ourselves to express, you know, it's okay to say, I don't know. Let me check on that for you. We don't have to have I have all the answers, which leads me to resilience. Don't drive yourself crazy, thinking you have to be the expert on everything. I know, Bishop and mentioned all the social issues out there, it's impossible for us to be an expert on every single thing out there. So do what you are called to do. For me, it's reaching the lost trying to get people to understand that they're loved. Do I stand up for social issues? Absolutely. But I also have realized that there are people that speak to that much more authoritatively, and much more convincingly, because that is their call. And to be resilient is understanding when it's time to pass the baton to have somebody else help you out. That prevents burnout, and that prevents, you know, all of that. And so, I would say that both are being authentic and being resilient is a is is a matter of you actually paying attention to what God has actually called you to do, and not this ideal that you put out there. Well, this is what people think I'm supposed to be called to do. And when we say yes, to our authentic call, life just seems to go a lot better. And your ministry goes a lotBrad Miller:
better. And how about you in terms of how you live, let your ministry authentically and be resilient when things don't always go your way?Hannah Wiswasser:
I think discernment goes hand in hand with us authenticity. Understanding what parts of your call are uncompromisable. So for me, it's it's mental health. It's making sure that when I'm preaching scriptures that oftentimes argues negatively about mental health, that I say, you know, look, I know this passage is difficult for people, but we're gonna reframe the story. This is not a story that needs to be thrown out, we can do some work, and we can reframe it, and bring it to where it is life giving. There are parts of my call where you know, okay, I'm not going to get to live out this particular part of my call with this particular congregation. There are always going to be compromises that we make. But authenticity, I think is about discerning which parts of your call are uncomfort are not compromisable. And I think in terms of talking about resiliency, I would echo a lot of what Keith and Dawn have already said. But I think I think what I would add, would be that it's okay to say I don't know. As as Don mentioned, we're not experts in everything. And, and I think this also kind of blends in with authenticity as well. One of the things that I will do with my congregation, especially about difficult issues, be it social justice, be it about interpretation of a passage is to say, you know, I'm still journeying through this, I can tell you about where I've been with my journey, and how I've gotten to the place where I am. But I know that my journey is not done. I know that there will be things that continue. And I am happy to come alongside you and journey with you in this process. But I do not have all of the answers. That's that's a pretty consistent phrase of mine. I do not haveBrad Miller:
all the answers. Well, that was exploitation. The rest of us had that Hannah had all the answers Wasn't that what did we extra expectation was? Well, rubbish at what other things would you like to learn from our new elders? Or have to share with them as we talk about ministry and such, you know, in the challenging times we're in in our church these days? What kind of things doBishop Julius Trimble:
you think I think I am learning from them? I think one of the things we often don't have a time is to share parts of our story I call story are called stories. It can be inspiring to others, others who might see this podcast hear this podcast and wonder, well, he, he seemed like regular folks, regular people that God has called and now they have been equipped for the ministry that's before them. So it's been said I don't know how to properly attributed to the God doesn't call the equip but equips the call. So So I would certainly say that I'm just I'm excited for the ministry that's before us. I know these are challenging times. But I don't think people need the Lord any less than they've been they've ever needed. The love of Jesus Christ. And I think, Dan, I agree with Don, sometimes, we maybe want to make it over complex. When we, if we would just start with Jesus and offer Christ and offer, the grace that we've learned so much about in our own particular expression, we do I book a discipline talks about our theological task. And our theological task is to in the contemporary context that we find ourselves in to continue to ask the questions, Hannah talked about, you know, and all of them have talked about, you know, what is God saying to us now, what is God? What is God calling us to be? Now, some I don't know, where I saw this one of the posts, someone posted, said, the devil is not afraid of people who go to church. The devil is afraid of people who really have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, and willing to share that. So I'm not saying we should discourage, we want to encourage people to go to church, but that that ended up itself is not going to be our witness that the fact that we go to,Brad Miller:
and we want to be encouraging as well, of course, as the theme of our podcast with you, bishop has to be encouraging. So as we spend our last couple moments here together, we always like to hear what is encouraged, you know, we, we've mentioned, we have so discouraging things in the world. We have some discouraging things in the church going on right now. And loads. I've talked to somebody not too long ago, I've another retired clergy, very discouraged and cynical about things. But I want to talk to you three here about just a word, just 30 seconds or so about what is encouraging to you right now about being a part of The United Methodist Church. Don, what's encouraging to you?Don Zlaty:
I'm encouraged by the mountain range that's in front of us. It offers opportunity to seek out different paths through it, you know, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. We can't, I'm encouraged that the way forward really is taking steps forward. That is encouraging to me, I'm encouraged that I can have conversations with folks on both sides of the aisle and and if they sit down and actually sit down and have a conversation, we can come up with some pretty amazing ways to do ministry and that that, to me is probably the biggest thing that I find encouraging moving forward as a new elder and as a as a kind of a person within the Indiana conference.Brad Miller:
Thank Thank you, Keith, what's encouraging to you as we as you embark in ministry as a doctor?Keith Turner:
Yeah, I it almost feels a little Dickensian, to me, it's the best of times it's the worst of times, it's the age of wisdom. It's the age of foolishness, as I look around, and examine the State of the United Methodist Church, but what encourages me more than anything is to see people truly follow into where they believe God wants them to be. Yeah, sure. There's a lot of discouragement around seeing churches disaffiliate, and people leave. But on the flip side, on the other side of the coin, we do see faithfulness in the midst of disagreement, people are faithfully pursuing that. And that should be as a stream of encouragement in the midst of pain in the midst of anxiety in the midst of a splintering that's happening. And, you know, I have friends who are planning to disaffiliate at some point and we still remain friends, we still remain ministry colleagues. And so it encourages me that although pads may be separating to some degree, friendships and relationships remain intact.Brad Miller:
So important, Hannah, how about you? What's encouraging to you as you embark administrators anHannah Wiswasser:
elder, I am encouraged by the fact that God is on the move that God is moving in. Amidst all of this, I Plainfield, we've continued to see new people walk in our doors. We've continued to see visitors, we've continued to see people who even after pandemic or maybe because of the pandemic, are you seeking out a new church family? And I'm encouraged that I get to be a part of that. Just a couple of weeks ago, we had a family visit the contemporary service that I have the privilege of running and helping to run each week. And this young woman was is a teenager and she was so excited to see a female pastor because As she had been told that no, you, women can't do this. And so I'm encouraged to see both men, young men, young women, young people, encouraged by seeing other people in ministry, and that God is continuing to move amongst. What will become the next generation of clergy?Brad Miller:
Thank you. Well, Bishop as we can conclude our time together, what encouraging word do you have about these new elders and about our church moving forward, and then maybe you can close us with?Bishop Julius Trimble:
Absolutely. I think this is just a wonderful time for us to continue to lean into the love of Jesus Christ and shared with others. The reason I keep preaching the gospel, gospel is because the gospel saves lives. And these three preachers, these three pastors have the privilege and the honor and the calling upon their lives to save lives by sharing the love of Jesus Christ. I want to close by quoting from a colleague of mine, Bishop Ken Carter, Jr. from his book, embracing the whiteness, the shared convictions of The United Methodist Church. And he writes a lot about grace, and how grace is so important. In our particular tradition. A generous orthodoxy reclaims a deep, inclusive and lifelong doctrine of grace, which is for us the way of salvation, both individually and as a church. Then he goes on to rehearse their understanding of the movement of God's grace, and I'm just going to share the first part of that prevenient grace permenant grace is the presence of God and all people prior to our acceptance of faith, or response to divine revelation. We believe that every person is created in God's image, hear me now. We believe that every person is created in God's image that all persons are of sacred worth. And surely this is common ground, and the Wesleyan tradition, for ministries with all people. Our doctrine, a Peruvian grace, is the basis for the conviction that no one is outside of God's love, and God's saving activity. No one is outside of God's love, or God's saving activity. Lord God, we give you thanks and praise for Jesus, we give you thanks and praise for life. We give you thanks and praise for all people who are part of the human family and the love of God touched them at their point of need. May they hear God's calling upon their life, to find a spiritual home, and if it be your Will God to call them to their next step of ministry, in Jesus name, amen.