Period of Discernment: time between you and God

A Period of Discernment (POD) with the Uniting Church WA is an opportunity to take some time to think seriously about God’s call on your life.

Sione Leaaetoa recently undertook a POD, finishing up the year-long process last year. He began the process after studying a Bachelor of Ministry at the Perth Bible College. Sione had known for a  long time that he wanted to work for the church, and since he, his wife Ana and their three children attend Scarborough Uniting Church, they decided to explore Sione’s call to ministry through the Uniting Church WA’s POD process.

Ana is now also undertaking a POD herself.

Sione feels that his POD cemented his calling to ordained ministry, meaning he is now going into the candidating process with a stronger knowledge about life in ministry.

“We knew that we wanted to be involved in the church, but to actually have that formal time of thinking and praying about it is actually good because you’re not just making the decision out of your own ego,” Sione said. “Through the POD, my calling to ministry was cemented because I feel like this is the right place for me to go. This is the right decision.”

A Period of Discernment has some formalities, like study and field education, but mostly it is a time set aside to think deeply about where God may be leading you. Throughout the process, Sione  kept a journal of his thoughts and reflections. He met regularly with a mentor, with whom he discussed his reflections and who helped him listen to and discern his call.

“If I have any issues that I want to raise or any questions, I can ask him. He can offer some help or suggestions. He’s just there to mentor you and to really help you explore what God is really  calling you to do.”

Sione’s mentor discussed all the different aspects of being a Minister of the Word, sharing from his own experience.

“So you’re not going into a calling that you don’t know anything about. You’re actually stepping into something that you know a little about and you’re discovering a lot of things and you’re actually thinking is this what I really want to do, is this what God wants me to do,” Sione said. “Every mentor would be different in their approach.”

While Sione feels the call towards ordained ministry, a Period of Discernment can also lead you towards a range of ministries or expressions of faith, to lay preaching, pastoral care, volunteering or overseas community development.

“You are not committed to something; it’s just a period where the church journeys with you through that year to help you think about the different areas you want to be involved. It’s a really good thing,” he said.

“You don’t have to be a minister, you don’t have to be a deacon; you can do any other ministry that the church has. The POD just gives you that platform to think about it and make that decision.

“If you feel like God is calling you then give it a go. It’s a good way of discovering and cementing that voice that keeps speaking to you.

“At the end, it’s you and God. If God gives you the desire and the passion, then go ahead.”

Inspired?

For more information about undertaking a Period of Discernment contact Moira Mathie, Chair of the Candidates for the Ministries Commission, at moiramathie@gmail.com or to download the handbook visit unitingchurchwa.org.au/careers/candidating-for-ministry.

Heather Dowling

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