Every so often, someone will ask me that question. What they usually mean, of course, is, "Are you ordained yet?"
The last time I heard that question, it was in a diner in a small town I've never before been through, and will likely not be through again, at least for a while. I don't even know the name of the person who asked it, or where I'd known her from. She might have been from a pastoral charge where I served as a student, or one of the ones I occasionally visit as a supply preacher. I'm good at recognizing faces, and voices, but names I don't always remember, especially if I go to a church where no-one wears a name tag, and I don't learn the names in the first place!
The distinction between the question she voiced and the question she was really asking is important. The friend who was with me at the time actually started laughing, knowing that for me, the question was hard to answer because the answers to the two questions are dramatically different.
No, I am not ordained.
Yes, I most definitely am in ministry.
At the time, I was driving her up to a town where her father-in-law resides, so that she could be with her husband who had been hospitalized while visiting his father. The next day, I would be baby-sitting her grandchildren, and on Monday, I'd be in the church office behind the administrator's desk, taking her place. This is ministry.
On Thursday, I conduct a service/bible study at a local retirement home. Not many folks come out, but the ones who do are so fanatical that the thought of the (ordained) minister of our church taking my place for a Thursday has them having palpitations. This is ministry.
Today I walked the grounds of a local retreat centre with the land manager, discussing how this year's Live Nativity Scene will play out, and on December 3rd, we'll put on this pageant for over 500 guests. This too is ministry.
Whether it's starting a Messy Church this coming winter, or being our church presbytery rep, or simply listening to someone who needs a shoulder to cry on, I'm engaged in ministry.
I'm even engaged in ministry at home--making dinner for an ex-husband who's had a stressful day (I do this for him twice each week, and he does it on Saturday, when he doesn't work), or taking care of my autistic child, or laughing and praying with my two older children, or checking up on my parents. Loving our families is ministry.
So yes, I'm in ministry. But I'm not ordained, and at this time, I won't be pursuing that path. I'm too busy...