It was not that long ago I sat where you are seated today, in the pews of a New York City church in the heart of Manhattan as I, too, awaited ordination as an interfaith minister.
I was excited, to be sure, but uncertain what it would mean to my life to have been ordained an interfaith minister. You, too, are probably wondering what it will mean to your life to have achieved this rare and wonderful accomplishment.
I can tell you this from my heart. Much like everything else in life, your ordination will mean whatever you wish it to mean.
It is likely no one will treat you any differently than they did yesterday or the day before. It is likely your spiritual path will not be understood, supported or as respected as you would like it to be. You may never have a congregation or wear your robes frequently.
Truthfully, your ordination as an interfaith minister is not to give the outside world permission to appreciate you because they may not. Your ordination as an interfaith minister is, however, your own permission to live your life in service of a world that may rarely appreciate, sometimes ignore, and might even discredit your contribution.
There are three things I wish you to remember when you leave these doors as ordained ministers. First: The only way to create a happy and fulfilling life is to live a life of service. Second: The only way to create a happy and fulfilling life is to live a life of service. Third: The only way to create a happy and fulfilling life is to live a life of service.
You may be thinking, “But, I need a nonprofit, or a congregation, or a book, or a pulpit so I can begin my life of service. How can I be of service without these things?” To this I will say, from a deep place within my heart of confirmed knowledge, you do not need anything more than what you already have to begin to live your life in service of others.
Remember the story of the Wizard of Oz? Remember Dorothy, the little girl who wanted more than anything to get back to Kansas but didn’t know how? She traveled far and overcame many obstacles only to find she had the power to return home with her from the very beginning of her journey. She was wearing magical Ruby Red Slippers.
Much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you have always had the magic within you. You have always had everything you need. Now, with your ordination you are armed with the self-permission to set aside anything that might block your own successful journey on your yellow brick road. I am here to tell you today, you are wearing the magical Ruby Red Slippers that will help you choose to live your life in service of this world.
Living a life of service is not about doing something big which will get you some attention which you may think will may make you feel better or make people like you more. Living a life of service is about doing many small things that remain unnoticed, unrecognized and unrewarded. Living a life of service is doing the right and good thing even when no one is looking. Living a life of service is being patient and compassionate with the qualities or actions of others that may madden, irritate or confuse you. Living a life of service means you understand this earth is inhabited by flawed and faulty humans doing they best they can with limited resources.
I want to leave you with this challenge today; and it may seem counter intuitive, and against what you may believe or have learned. I challenge you to take your eye off the big prize and focus on the details of today. Ask yourself how you can be of service in some small way, today.
When you turn your attention to those in need around you, you are living a life of service. Each and every day, make it a point to do five or more kind and generous things for others, some of which are not seen by anyone but yourself. In this commitment to living in service, each day there will be five testaments to your ministry. You will be ministering to others through your ministry to your own life, displaying no less than five actions each day that reconfirm your commitments and your vows. In committing to five small acts each day, in one short year you will have accomplished more than one thousand eight hundred acts of goodness. That is a solid ministry providing you with a life of fulfillment and happiness.
Remember, there are three keys to living a happy and fulfilling life: First – Living a life of service. Second – Living a life of service. Third – Living a life of service.
May all your days be blessed with the benefits of your small actions ministering to others through your new title as interfaith ministers. I encourage you to wear your Ruby Red slippers with joy, knowing you have and always will be whole, perfect and of great value on this earth at this time.
Congratulations to The New Seminary Class of 2012.
(This address given offered by Reverend Doctor Mara Leigh “Coach” Taylor to the newly ordained ministers of The New Seminary in New York City, New York on June 16, 2012)