The following is a paper I wrote for Pastoral Ethics in the Fall semester of 2005.
When I first entered the mission field after graduating from college, I did so as an intern. I was sent to serve alongside a small congregation in Estonia working to support the youth ministry. I had committed two years to this project and wanted to use this time to test whether ordained ministry was a calling or simply an interest. I had no intention of staying another three years, no expectation of developing a love for ministry and discipleship, not even the foggiest idea that I would meet my wife there and eventually return to commit myself long term to cross-cultural ministry in Estonia. In these early years, I was referred to at home and in Estonia as a “missionary”. This was undeniably my function, but I balked at the title aware of the high expectations and responsibilities bundled with it. If I was a missionary, it was entirely by accident and fulfilling the function alone was not enough to convince me that I met the standards involved in the title. At the end of five years in Estonia, I was assured that mine was indeed a call to ministry and specifically to the pastorate. My desire was to return to Estonia to develop a stronger sense of discipleship in the church and to find ways to support struggling rural churches. But to do so required that I accept the mantle of missionary and all of the spiritual and professional responsibilities it entails.