I’m Lauren Harsila. I’m a student pastor, which basically means I’m learning the ropes as I go. I grew up in Bryan, Ohio went to college at Mount Vernon Nazarene University and then moved to Wilmore, Kentucky to work on a Masters of Divinity degree, which I will receive in December. I’m a pastor because nothing else ever made sense. No other purpose was whispered into my heart as a plan for my life. I begged to hear so many other plans over the years, but ultimately God’s plan prevailed as I slowly surrendered to His will over mine. God’s plan led me back to Ohio over a year ago. Coming back to Ohio happened earlier than I originally thought, but serving at Monfort Heights United Methodist Church has caused me to grow in ways that seminary never would. I work with and serve the children and youth of our church mostly. I get to see the potential for the future often before others, and I get to experience the Word of God for the first time all over again through their eyes.
I never thought being a pastor would be easy, and now I know that to be true as a 25 year old. There are so many times I have been at a youth event and mistaken for one of the youth. There have been countless instances that people have not been able to hide their look of shock as they find out what I do. Part of that may be because I’m a woman, but it also has a lot to do with my age. Obviously, age is something I can’t do anything about and in this instance of sometimes needing to appear older, time is the only thing that will cure it. It’s difficult to lead people that twice your age sometimes, and when my friends can’t understand what that’s like as they too climb the career ladder in their respective fields, I search for a place to feel as though I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes with this idea. That’s why I love the idea of the connection behind The United Methodist Church and specifically how that connection helps young clergy.
I’ve heard it said before that we were created to be in community, and I’m finding that to be more and more true. Absolutely, we need the guidance, advice, and mentorship of the generation that has come before us. We also need the support of our peers and the opportunity to form relationships with them. The beauty of a network like Refresh, is that we as young clergy may run the race together, and conquer the desire to compare ourselves to each other. I believe that the Church is a better place when we’re all working together, instead of against each other. When the connection is able to work together, I believe we can grow together and I’m honored to be a part of it so early on in my journey on the path that God has laid before me.
This blog done in coordination with Refresh; a young clergy network in the West Ohio Annual Conference of the UMC. This is the first blog of twelve in a twelve month prompt.