I think girls/boys considering church employment should be required to read Georges Bernanos' Diary of a Country Priest (1936).
Too many young pastors quit because they should have never started.
It's a tough business; and only the called survive.
Bernanos' book is like a cold shower for prospects who say stupid things like, "I wanna grow up to be just like Jesus!"
Don't get me wrong!
That's the goal for all truly authentic disciples; but when it's said stupidly/ignorantly/naively by prospects, it's always because they leave out the crucifixion part.
My favorite quote from the book explains the responsibility/risk; as an old priest says to a rookie, "Our Heavenly Father said mankind was the salt of the earth, son, not the honey. And our poor world's rather like old man Job, stretched out in all his filth, covered with ulcers and sores. Salt stings on an open wound, but saves you from gangrene."
Along with lots of, uh, others, I counsel lots of pastors; especially younger ones.
I think it's because they appreciate me telling them how to learn from my mistakes.
O.K., I live in a vocational ghetto; yet I'm convinced there are parallels.
Anyway, I came across an exchange between a fellah and his pastor that I trust is mirrored occasionally.
A Fellah to His Pastor
"I wanted to take a moment and ask how you and your family are doing.
I have noticed you seem to be taking a step back from things.
I can't begin to imagine what it is like to be in your shoes. You are constantly being pulled in different directions. People call on you for every little thing - not to mention church members who can't get along. Now I may be wrong, as you like to say, but it also seems to me that people are always wanting you here and there and everywhere for their every need but may not be there for you.
Just know there are people you reach that do listen to you and yet there are people that need more Jesus in their lives instead of 'needing you' all the time.
While I still have a lot to learn and growing to do in my relationship with Jesus, know that you helped me start that with your salt and light.
Don't stop doing what you do.
You are blessed with the gift to preach HIS message. And like I said, there are people that you are getting through to.
So I guess I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you give of yourself and do for others . It doesn't go unnoticed.
Back to what I originally asked.
How are you?
Is there anything I can do for you?
I am your friend and brother in Christ."
Reply to Fellah from His Pastor
"Thanks, brother, for your concern.
Because you will be an elder sooner than later, I will answer directly and concisely; and please feel free to share this with your wife.
I've often said the worst time for someone who tries to do what I do is the first Sunday after Thanksgiving until the first Monday after Easter.
It's not anything atypical to the last few decades. There's so much excitement about the season and expectations for the season and people are quickly disappointed by failed expectations and prone to hysterical drama and transference of that drama; sooooooo during this season, I feel more like a referee and cheerleader than undershepherd.
This year has been especially exacerbated by caring for pastors who are really going through hell for loving Jesus more than religions about Jesus in our county as well as country, a denomination that's pathetically and increasingly apostate, a school district that doesn't know one end from the other, people in the church that are really, really, really irreconcilable despite..., staff members who talk too much about retirement and cause me to have to talk to people who, along with me, don't want them to retire, and...
Actually, it makes me, as Paul said, feel 'fulfilled' about ministry; and, of course, not having...
Annnnnnnd I must admit that ___'s death...
Moretheless, I am more excited and energized for ministry at ___ than ever before along with...
Since ___ and my time with ___,...I have felt strangely and consistently and increasingly warmed in my relationship with Him and His and a passion to live and, if necessary, literally die for...anyone.
Sooooooo knowing I will disappoint mean religions like ___, denominational/sectarian jingoists, non-denominational self-righteous bigots, churches that fence the table, and people who hate me for taking the church from them and giving it back to Jesus, I am prepared, sometimes even eager, to exercise a spiritual gift used only once.
In other words, I expect to be your friend and pastor until I die or someone assassinates me. I continue because I know I am called to promote, preserve, and protect - salt, shine, and leavenate.
I am at more personal peace than ever before in my life; and it increases as I increase my intimacy with Jesus.
My constant challenge is to be guided by Jesus in life and ministry according to Matthew 10 and John 10 with Matthew 10:16 as a punctuation point illustrated by the Lion of Judah ring that I wear.
For example, I resigned recently as...from...because I found myself being dragged into micro-managing administrative things that I'm not gifted nor inclined nor interested in...
How can you help me?
Just asking helps!
I asked permission to share this with you.
Blank spots appear to protect the guilty.
Occasional encouragement is a blessing...even for people who get Psalm 62.
While coming from my vocational ghetto, there are parallels.
Blessings and Love!
Praying for you with love every day, dear friend and brother. :)
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