The contemporary pastor is little more than “a quivering mass of availability" -Stanley Hauerwas
A friend gave these me these two little Turtles to remind me of the challenge to live a healthy life of vulnerability and protection. To balance the danger of being too exposed or too withdrawn. A visual icon of the dance of this dangerous pastoral life....wounded and wounding...healed and healing...Word and wordless...truthful and mystery...loving and hating...death and life.
Finding the rhythms...in the tensions is a spiritual work of nuance...like a guitar string that needs to be taunt to be in tune...but not to tight, as to snap.
Pastoral life, is a call and a choice, to embedded oneself into the lives of many people...and yet, one has to always keep oneself rooted first and foremost...God-ward in-order to be faithful and fruitful...man-ward.
Learning to respond to the Spirit and not always to the need is a tough discipline to learn. I was reminded and relived to see this delicate but profound discipline exhibited in the ministry life of Jesus.
When Lazarus was sick and Jesus after hearing the news...stayed a few days longer, instead of rushing off to "be present"...and poor 'Rus died. The repercussions and relational sting of that action can be heard in the voice of Jesus's friend, who didn't understand Jesus' seeming lack of concern and care. He didn't appear to be performing His pastoral duties.
“Lord, if you had been here...my brother would not have died” ( John 11:21, 32)
I find a measure of reprieve in the fact that Jesus didn't feel the need to react...He chose to respond...when it was time. Jesus was not to interested in being thrust into the role of "fixer dude" like when the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana:
"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." -John 2:1-4
Ministry life is packed full of folks telling you what is wrong with this or that...the multitude of needs is always being presented to you as if you should be doing something about everything.
Rarely do people recognize that the very fact that they "see a need" probably means they are being prompted by the Spirit to "meet" that need...or simply pray. I often find myself in the soul draining crush that comes between the confusion of actual ministry and the messiah complex. I often want to...but can't...I may need to but for whatever reason...I am unable to.
There are many moments when the need has overreached the means....both internally and externally and I am forced to retreat into the shell, either for self protection or regeneration. This process is most facilitated for me by leaving; I just have to get away to disengage and breathe. Restoration of soul is usually renewed by finding a place of solitude or isolation either literally or relationally.
In the morning he went to a place where he could be alone.
The crowds searched for him.
When they came to him, they tried to keep him from leaving.
The tension in life isn't about leaving...it's about reprieving...because "they" will always find you....which isn't a bad thing, what is bad...is how you handle those encounters, day in and day out.
"I never want people to say he/she was always there for me....because if they can say that, it means I wasn't living a balanced life."-T. Levert
Are you tired?
Burned out on religion?
Come to Me.
Get away with Me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
-Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)