Date: March 22, 2023
Yesterday I spent an hour and a half in spiritual direction. I take the time out to share in complete confidence my deepest thoughts, anxieties, hopes, and aspirations. Everything is placed in the context of the divine work that God is seeking to do in my life – “Finish, then, thy new creation” is my prayer, invoking the word of “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” by Charles Wesley. This time is precious. My spiritual director, the Rev. Martin Smith, listens carefully and attentively. He provides insights, challenges, and questions. It is time well spent.
Ministry is, and should be, agony. Leadership is, and should be, hard. Every day, every leader, everywhere makes decisions. One’s prayer is always a simple: “Lord, help me get this right or at least as right as possible.” With humility, seeking the counsel of others, one seeks to walk the path that furthers the kingdom. This is the goal.
This particular Lent has had more sleepless nights than most. It is in the night that one is alone with one’s thoughts. And one prays – one prays for those impacted by one’s decisions. Taking this work deeply seriously is a moral obligation – indeed it is a gospel obligation.
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary and President of The General Theological Seminary