Friday, December 29, 2006

Called, Part 2

Back before Christmas, I wrote a post about my sense of calling. It generated a lot of buzz, from church members and bloggers alike. Some people really seemed to “get it,” some were concerned for my mental health, and some were quick to … shall we say … “encourage” me to just get over it and do my job.

At the time of my writing it, I was in over my head in terms of trying to get done simply what needed to get done, and I had momentarily lost contact with the foundational sense of my calling to ministry. I asked several dear friends to again remind me of why it was exactly I was doing this pastor thing, and they did, and I’m okay now. Experiencing Christmas helped, too.

I just have one more thought to add. In the comments of that post, a couple of people mentioned “survival.” Adam wrote: “But I guess unless I want to move out to the forest, or really push the envelope of living in our society, i'll have to do what i'm not called to do to survive!” And Codepoke wrote: “The modern pastor's job is almost unsurvivable.” That got me to thinking a bit.

Seems to me that there must be a distinction between living out your calling and doing what is necessary to survive. See, I don’t want to “survive” as a pastor, I want to strive to realize my full potential, to flourish, to thrive. I guess survival mode means doing all the stuff because you have to do it, period. There’s nothing underneath in which to ground it, only survival itself. And that’s where I was a couple of weeks ago - just doing the bare minimum. It didn’t feel good, and it showed in my writing.

I know, I know – “Boo-hoo, Andy. Get over it!” Listen, I know people who have been forced into true survival mode by the vicissitudes of life, and it absolutely consumes them. I am not remotely trying to do any comparison thing, here.

So here’s where I am now. Having come through that little down-time a bit, I am in touch again with my calling to ministry, which means that I’m still doing all the stuff I ever did, but now there is some fertile soil in which it can take root, be grounded. It’s not that I’ll have to do what I’m not called to do just to survive. It’s more like my calling will undergird everything I do as a pastor. Even balance budgets and read forwarded emails!

God is good!


Adam said...

hey man, nice post. in retrospect, i feel i came off as a bit of a jerk. it would've been much less you-know-what-holeish in person. but hey, if it got you thinking then it wasn't all bad.

i think the just of what you're getting at is, sometimes in "full time ministry" you can get bogged down in all the "details" or "grunt work" that you can lose sight of what's most important. i still stick with those things you listed probably will always have to take place. unless, you wanna go and venture new ways to "do church" which i would applaud!

example: do i spend more time planning the "talk" on Sunday night than i do in meetings that may or may not be relevant to anything in "my" particular ministry? another example: am i putting out fires with this or that group more than i'm spending time with youth? what's more important? i'd say the latter, but if i don't also do the former i won't last long.

ok, i'm gonna stop with the hugest comment ever, but i totally feel ya on this one, even if it didn't look like it from my first post. to sum it up in a word: balance!

steveh said...

You must have way too much time on your hands to think this deep and write that much. You need to attend more church meetings or get a second job to fill your time or SOMETHING! :-)

Elizabeth said...

Andy - I enjoyed your previous post and this one too. I think we all feel what you were feeling from time to time - sometimes more often then we'd like. It is frustrating to put so much energy into things you think are important, only to have people worry at you about things that you don't think matter much one way or the other. I think it is very important to remember the core, the foundation of our call then. And we're all entitled to want to pull our hair out sometimes too.

Andy B. said...

Thank you, Beth.

Anonymous said...

Your leadership and vision for the church in a changing culture is amazing. Unfortunately, it comes with consequences that are sometimes welcome, and other times make you want to just...just...change all the drapes in the church without the Board of Trustees' permission - ok, so its not that extreme - but you get the point.