Claim It

March 04, 2016

by Rev. Donnie Mitchem bible-open

“My soul magnifies the Lord And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name; And His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him….”


I know that for many these words are familiar. They are read during Advent. But these words hold special significance for me and my Called and Gifted to Lead workshop. I attended the workshop with excitement but also with a little trepidation. “Could it be that I have gifts?” “What would the gifts be?” “What are people going to say about me?” These were just a few of the thoughts running through my head as a drove to the retreat center for the workshop.

Thankfully, I did have gifts and strengths for ministry. But through this soul-searching process, something kept coming up…”You have to claim your leadership”. Umm...I think that was scarier than wondering if I had gifts.

Through my coaching sessions and some personal discernment, I used my scholarship money to go on the Wesley Pilgrimage in England. This pilgrimage consists of 10 days in England, walking in the steps of John and Charles Wesley. Each morning begins with prayer and communion. Each morning for 10 days I said, “For you almighty, have done great things for us, and holy is your name.” The pilgrimage set up a daily life pattern of holy living. We studied and learned; we talked and laughed. I slept most nights in a tiny room in Salisbury; a few times I fell asleep to monks’ chanting. I traveled with United Methodist lay and clergy from across the United States. I got to experience firsthand the power of the connection. We focused on the importance of Holiness of Heart and Life. I fell in love with Suzanna Wesley and her tenacity and strength. I decided that John Wesley had to be the first UM Deacon. He took seriously the call to take church to the world. Paragraph 329 of The 2012 Book of Discipline says, “The work of the Deacon is a work of justice, serving with compassion as they seek to serve those on the margins of society.” On this trip I was able to see the prisons Wesley visited and sit in the New Room where peopled learned and studied and disciples were made. John Wesley cared for and ministered to those on the margins of the world and created a renewal of the church that still lives today! I wonder, how did it feel for John Wesley when he preached out in that field for the first time—did he feel like I do when we have church on Wednesday nights in a local park? Or when we have family movie nights at a local middle school? Did he worry that people would think he was crazy?! Did he care what people thought? To share the Gospel with the world, you have to be willing to take risks.

I also learned that Wesley was not perfect; he failed and people were angry with him. I know that I had read this before, but this experience made it real for me. To embrace leadership you have to make yourself vulnerable. salisbury+cathedralOn the last night of our pilgrimage, we sat in St Paul’s Cathedral as the choir sang “…because he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name…” Sitting there in that opulent Cathedral, this girl from West Virginia, who had never been out of the country before, heard these words; tears ran down my face and I realized that the call for me to claim is that of the mighty who has done great things for me. This passion that I have for those in the world who are mentally ill, or living in poverty, is a call placed on my soul by God, and that is where I put my faith and trust. Since this pilgrimage I have tried to keep up a pattern set on this pilgrimage- study, prayer, small group covenant discipleship. Striving to live a life of grace and not fear and worry. (ok I’m still working on the fear and worry but it’s much better!)
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.