aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be preachers, Part III

Okay, so if the parish is so tough, why do I stay in. Well, lemme give you the good part of being a pastor.

It is an enormous privilege to be accorded the place in people's lives that I am given -- and that automatically, w/o my ever having earned it. Just because I am someone's pastor, I get to share in the biggest events of their family's lives (good and bad) -- marriage, birth, struggles, achievements, death. The fact that they may learn to love me and want me to accompany them through these experiences is not the point: when I am first appointed to their parish, they make room for me, and by accompanying them through these experiences, they come to love me (at least, I hope so). So it works the other way round from what most people think. But it is still an amazing thing to be so included in their lives.

Similarly, it is an enormous privilege to stand at the center of all the relationships in the congregation. When I take my place at the Lord's Table (physically or metaphorically), I stand at the nexus of redemption. Here is where all the people's focus on God centers, and here is where God's regard for them is visibly demonstrated. Not only that, but when I stand at the Table (physically or metaphorically), all the many relationships in the congregation cross through me, for we meet each other at the Table/in the Kingdom, in addition to meeting God there. As a servant of Christ, I stand in Christ's place. All the vertical and horizontal relationships are focused, not ON me, but THROUGH me. And this is none of my deserving. As Charles Williams put it, "If an image lacks, since God backs all,/ be the image, a needless image of peace/ to those in peace . . ."

Third, I am happy to be doing something that really, really matters. Oh, I could make more money running a factory that made stuff that sold like hotcakes (but nobody needed); nevertheless, I get to say things and do things and assist in decisions that will outlast the universe.

Finally, to follow one's call (whatever that call may be) is to find fulfillment. Everyone has what might be termed "God's best choice for your life." To find that choice and choose it for your own reasons is to find your will and God's in accord. And while I gripe a lot about the life I lead (that is human nature), I have no regrets. Consider how much I'd have to gripe about if I'd chosen something that would have NOT been a source of fulfillment for me? I would be utterly unhappy, and make everyone else around me unhappy, too. I came close to that once. But now, I'll follow where he leads me. I may be a backseat driver, but at least I acknowledge that letting God drive is the only way to get where you both want to go.
Tags: church, clergy

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