What is the job of a pastor? Is it to be a moral voice in a world of sin? Are they to manage a church so that people have something to come to on Sundays? Are they to placate the masses so government has a reliable source of stability? Are they supposed to listen to people in their dark times?
I have been thinking a lot about what my job means. I know I am not really evangelist. Meaning my major goal in life is not to make new converts. My desire is to help Christians be better Christians. I want people to grow closer to God, not just acknowledge God exists. But I wonder what metrics I am judged by. I wonder what metrics I use on myself. I find I have placed myself in an impossible situation. I am supposed to be efficient, produce something. The youth in the church should be baptized. They should come more often maybe. But what does that matter? I want the youth to know when they face something hard God is there for them. if they need to talk to someone, I am there for them. That is not something I can measure.
My time ends up in a weird balance. I work at making lessons and sermons. I outline, exegesis, and research for lessons. I give them a clear order then apply illustrations that support the main idea. I produce a lesson that can be measured as good or bad.
I try to be open to the lives of the youth I work with. I have a side that cannot be measured. I want to be like coach or fan and cheer the people of my church on. I want to encourage the youth. I suppose I could sum it up and say I care. How can I measure caring? Do I use the amount of time I care? Can I even measure that?
I feel stretched, I want to have good marks on the metrics, and I want to be open. So I am trying to live into standards I cannot measure or really understand. I don’t know for sure how much or little an impact I am having. And that is the problem I just do not know how ‘efficient’ I am in any of the worlds I work in. I could be on a crash course of burnout but I have no clue what else I can do.
I try to force myself to take one day where I do not work. It makes sense if there should be a day for God. Sunday cannot be a Sabbath for me because that is my big day. The day that stresses me out the most and I cannot relax. Saturday will not work because I am putting the finishing touches on what happens for Sunday. So my work week is from Saturday-Thursday. The hard part is that I could work on Friday. I enjoy my work. Yesterday I spent hours just reading the bible, reading commentaries, and preparing for family camp. And it was totally fun and interesting to me. I love IMing youth, planning ahead, and doing my work.
So I have to spend my Sabbath not thinking about this week’s lesson. I need to ignore the desire to take care of errands. If my life is so busy with work I may start to ignore the reason for my work. Forgetting God would not be cool, but I know it is a possibility.
So today I am trying to not work. That means I have surfed the internet, listened to music, and read some fiction. Now I am writing a blog entry. I could play some video games but I am not really feeling it right now. I don’t just want to sit and watch tv. It is interesting how to prevent burnout, God wants us to not do work. I probably am better for taking a Sabbath but sometimes it is hard.
turns out my job is safe for a year and all the other stuff will be taken care of by other people. when i heard that i go so much relief. i had to call the many people who were worried about me and let them know the good news.
I gots the ennui (pronounced “on-weee”). I have it because I have reached all of my goals and I am not sure what I want to do with my life. The only thing I have really known is school. And I just completed that. So I suppose I get a job. But I was already a Youth Pastor, and now I am an English Pastor. So it is not like I have a goal to be a pastor. I really do not have a clear focused goal like getting my M. Div. So I am getting into my denominations pool of people looking for jobs. I think I want to be a pastor of spiritual formation, but really I just want to work in a church I love. This summer I am working at my church, and I am waiting for God to show me what He has I store for me later.
Life happens and there is no need to try and control every aspect about it. the first Church I worked in taught my how to plan like no ones business. We would plan out the whole summer in an afternoon. I worked out a system for planning a day camp. I could plan like everything was under my control.
The church I am working at now has taught me that life happens. There are times when unexpected things happen. Instead of freaking out that the plan has not worked, just make it up as it goes. There have been numerous Sundays I showed up and had no clue what would happen.
It has been helpful for me right now. I do not to plan out my future. I have two paths before me right now. Either my church finds me a place to live and I stay through the summer at the very least, or I go back to Illinois in june and start looking for a church to hire me. Either way it could be very fun. I like not having to stress about my plan.
I am starting to see how I will not be leaving in a world of plans. I will be living in a world of God. Sometimes that will mean planning and organizing, but other times that means I will be letting things happen. I do not want an efficient ministry. I do not want a ministry measured by metrics of the world. I instead just want to lift my life up to God so that He may give me to others. Now that would be cool.
This last Thursday I got to go up to Lake Arrowhead in the mountains. It was great because I was not going to take my laptop, nor was I going to watch TV. I even left my IPod back home. It is rare for me to be so disconnected from technology. Right now I am typing on my desktop while Jac Pepin is cooking on the TV. While I love the great things technology has to offer I know I need time to just read and think.
So while I was reading I realized how far my education has gone. I was reading a book about early Christian texts and I could place them and understand their context. I could see how much I have changed since coming to seminary. I do not think education replaces a passion for God, but my education has lead me to have a deeper faith in God. I know that God most have been involved in the Bible otherwise we would have ended up with some terrible stuff. I think education allows people to connect on a deeper level with God. They can see the obvious beauty of God, but also the beauty that is found in the intricacies of life.
I also read a book on hate. I realized there are people I should hate. I should wish them the worst possible things. But I do not hate them. Some of them have really messed me up, but I still think they are children of God and carrying God’s image. That makes them special. Hate is easy, but I cannot hate that well. So now I have to get on to the much harder working towards reconciliation. It would be nice to write people off but I do not have the luxury. God creates more work for me, but in the end I like it.
I start my last quarter of school. I am scared and thrilled with the prospect of the future.