Subtle Influences?

Yesterday’s post ended with a question: what seen and unseen influences might have led me to sense that God was moving me towards pastoral ministry?

I’ve thought about that question for the last several days.

As far as I know, there were not any pastors on either side of my family tree. My mother’s family had both Quaker and Episcopalian influences; my father’s side had some Christian Science. So there was certainly never any expectation or pressure that one of us Davises would grow up and enter into ministry.

So I believe the influences were more subtle.

For one, my mother taught me to read at a very young age. I was always oriented towards words and how to put them together. That sort of helps in preaching.

And some of my earliest reading memories center on the Arch Bible Story series. Like this one about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:

Those books are how I first found out about the parable of the talents, Jonah and the fish, and David & Goliath. In fact, I can still hear my mom’s voice reading “And Goliath was dead.” In the picture book, the stone hit him in the middle of the forehead; we agreed (mom and 5-year-old me) that it more likely hit him in the temple.

I guess you could say that I saw the bible before I ever read the bible.

A second subtle influence was my dad’s job on the law faculty of Southern Methodist University. We weren’t Methodist and I never attended a Methodist church until I was 20, but as a kid my world revolved around that university. Walking its campus, hearing its stories, and living & dying (usually dying) by the results of its sports teams. I figure that somewhere, deep in the recesses of my mind, there grew a positive association with what it means to be Methodist.

There have been other influences that drew me to ministry. Most of them not so subtle. Yet the experiences and memories of early childhood shape us in ways beyond our understanding.

In other words, against all expectation, they help land me in the pastoral ministry of the United Methodist Church.