The Roundabout Way
By: Zohary Ross, BASOM Pastoral Resident at New North Church
“The roundabout way may not be the most direct route, but it represents a wonderful era in the spiritual life when God shows up in very tangible ways that assure us of his presence on the journey.” – Ruth Haley Barton
I read this quote last year as we read the book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton in our Christian Leadership class for BASOM. It is a book about leadership as explored through the life of Moses.
Reading about Moses’ story as a leader and why God took the Israelites the long way to the Promised Land resonated with me in a new way because when I think about my own story of feeling called, it seems that God has taken me the long way to get here.
Barton says, “God intentionally led the Israelites by ‘the roundabout way’ rather than the most direct route, because God knew that they weren’t ready to take on the challenges that a more direct route would have brought.”
In my second year at BASOM now, I see how God’s timing has been perfect. Initially, I was reluctant to commit to the two years required of the program. When I applied last year, I was already in my 40s and had just completed seminary training. I was ready to move on to the next stage of ministry but not sure I wanted to take more classes.
But while I didn’t necessarily think I needed more training, I did need a mentor and had been praying for one for several years. When I reached out to inquire about BASOM, I was struck with Mark Mitchell’s accessibility. I was not used to a Lead Pastor taking the time to answer questions like he did. But Mark did–not only one time, but over several conversations and email exchanges for months as I prayed about joining the program. In addition to his willingness to talk and discuss all of the questions I had, I also appreciated his passion for ministry and his desire to train up the next generation of leaders.
As a Bay Area native, I was well aware of the challenges of doing ministry in this part of the country. I had seen many eager young leaders come with a desire to make a difference only to burn out and leave after a short stint. I saw the value of Mark’s training and his heart for equipping leaders for the long haul. Eventually, I decided I had to join BASOM because I knew this was the person I wanted to learn from.
Since last year, I have been struck by how perfect God’s timing truly is. Although I felt a call to ministry in my teens, nearly 30 years ago, it was only until the last few years that I saw a clear path. And BASOM has been a huge part of that. I realize that all of the detours of my life have actually made me a more compassionate and empathetic leader. During all of the years I “wandered in the wilderness,” God was equipping me with skills and experiences that have been invaluable to my work in ministry as a resident at New North Church.
So, if you are thinking the next phase of your own call to ministry I highly recommend you consider BASOM even if it seems like God’s taken you the long way. You might also find that His timing really is perfect. I invite you to learn more about BASOM’s pasotral residency program.