What Are the Benefits of Being Ordained?

by Marie Baptiste

When Christian ministers, priests and deacons become ordained, in that singular moment of ordination, they set on a path of personal and professional fulfillment as their lives become intertwined with the diverse communities they serve. In the course of their ministries, these individuals experience numerous rewards like respect and integrity and some may realize deepening commitment to vocation and intimate relationship with God. Although Christianity consists of seemingly countless denominations and sects, and although the process of ordination varies widely across that spectrum, certain potential benefits of ordination cross boundaries. Additionally, men and women ordained in religious traditions other than Christianity experience their own possible spiritual and material rewards.

Faith Level

Experiencing the call to teach the tenets of Christianity serves as an often dramatic, albeit humble, beginning to a life of devotion and service to God and to others. At an interior level, ministers continue to develop in such areas as spiritual, emotional and theological maturity. These women and men choose vocations that challenge and guide pastors to prayer and to lead their congregations and wider communities, all of which face life's struggles to live moral and faith-filled lives. Prayer draws ministers into communion with God and into community with those they serve. Strengthened by prayer, by growing faith and by their worship communities, pastors experience the same kind of support they offer others. Because all Christian ministries serve a two-fold purpose -- expressing love of God and people -- the highest reward of ordination is a dynamic and developing relationship with God. In such Christian churches as the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic, ordination represents a holy sacrament and an enduring bond with God. Additional rewards include developing leadership skills, integrity and refined judgment.

Community Level

Ordained ministers live in spiritual partnership with their faith communities. In all Christian denominations, ordained leaders perform such rituals as confirmations, baptisms, weddings and funerals. In Christian denominations like the Baptist Church, ordained pastors and deacons serve as leaders who, in addition to performing the sacraments and providing counseling to members, also preach Sunday sermons. In the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, only ordained priests perform the sacraments, such as the Mass and the Eucharist. In the latter ritual, only a priest holds the authority to perform the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. In their daily support for the members of their congregations and parishes, pastors may experience the benefits of support and encouragement from those they serve. On a broader level, ministers form beneficial and empowering bonds with other pastors, with their superiors, and with leaders and members of their towns, cities and rural areas. These relationships serve as sources of personal and professional resources like counseling and essential services for those in need.

Educational Level

For practical reasons, many ordination processes include an intensive personal and community discernment process followed by years of theological and pastoral studies in seminaries and graduate programs for such advanced degrees as Master of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity. Just as a discerned call to ministry represents a beginning of a life of rewards for God-centered service, so do the benefits of the educational process provide a stable foundation for a lifetime of intellectual benefits. Some Christian denominations and sects provide advanced theological studies and pastoral development opportunities as part of continuing educational development for ministers to refine leadership, pastoral and administrative skills. These additional theological studies can offer such benefits as deeper biblical interpretive capabilities and broadened knowledge base regarding current church issues.

Ordination Benefits in Other Religions

Religious traditions other than Christianity ordain men and women to monastic and non-monastic roles. In Tibetan Buddhism, for instance, monks live in community, serve all living beings with compassion and enjoy lives of simplicity. The utmost benefit of this form of ordination is helping others to become awakened and escape the cycle of rebirth. Semikha, rabbinic ordination in the Jewish tradition, provides men and women with spiritual and educational foundations that enable them to give authoritative answers regarding Jewish law and to lead Jewish communities.

About the Author

With a Master of Arts in systematic theology, concentrating in world religions, and additional graduate hours in Middle Eastern studies, Marie Baptiste possesses extensive experience writing religion and theological articles, essays and research papers. Her work appears in such respected print publications as "TIFERET" and "High Country News."

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