Just added to the thread from earlier in the week in which we discussed how we would react if one of our children wanted to go into the ordained ministry, Fr. Jonathan, an Episcopal priest and personal friend, weighed in with this interesting comment, which I didn’t want you to miss:
As usual, I’m coming into this conversation late, but that’s because it’s taken me a few days to ponder how I would answer this question. If one of my sons decided to become a priest in the Episcopal Church, or even in some other Anglican body, I think my initial reaction would be fatherly pride. Given how much my children see and will see of the rotten side of the Church, if they still want to serve God in this way, it is a testament to a great faith and love on their part, and I would thank God for that. But once that initial flash of pride passed, I would certainly have reservations, knowing the kind of pressures and attacks that priests face.
It’s more than just the bickering of angry parishioners or the sin and corruption of church hierarchies that make the priesthood a minefield. It is also the very real spiritual evil to which the priesthood exposes us. I am never more certain that I am following God’s call as a pastor than when I experience spiritual attack. And this is something that is rarely talked about, even amongst orthodox clergy. We would much rather complain about the latest dumb thing that our superiors have done than talk about the influence of the demonic on our ministries and our lives. And part of that is because it demands a much greater trust in God than we’re ready to have. The problems of parish life and even the problems of church corruption seem like they’re within our power to solve. We have no way to solve the problem of spiritual evil except to give ourselves completely to the protection of Our Lord. And if I’m being honest, as much as it scares me to give myself to that protection, it scares me even more to give my children to it.