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From the "Um . . . tell us something we didn't already know" file, pastors don't really know what the heck they are doing.

There I said it "outloud".  We all think it, know it and hard as we try to hide it, most of the folks we attempt to lead, pastor and influence know it too.  We don't really know what we are doing.   
I have always felt like somewhat of an impostor when it comes to this amazing role that I play in the life of a so many: my family, the congregation I serve or the denomination that I am part of.  It is such an honor to be called pastor, but if we are not careful, we begin to believe our own hype and then driven by an insidious need for success, we get into trouble.   Recently I have been struggling with my own smorgasbord of life's chaos buffet:  inconveniences,  surprises  and  opportunities that all demand some kind of thoughtful response and reaction.  Expectations, obligations, dreams and fears are all bundled up together in this thing called life and somehow I am expected to make good decisions that yield successful results.

Or am I?

The success-driven, eldest-child, achievement-minded, vanity-laden part of me certainly wants to make "the right" decision/s for all involved.  At the same time I want to value the gifts that have provided some wonderful opportunities for me and I want to be a good steward of the energy and time that has been give to my care.   Oh, yeah, and I would like to be able to see a movie in the middle of the day on occasion free of guilt 😉   All of this creates this constant battle of wills in my head where I waffle back-and-forth between wanting to chuck it all and hide in a dark room only to wallow in my sorry-entitlement-laden tears or just picking up the family and moving to Maui and opening a island hipster coffee, wine and halo halo bar.  Neither of which are particularly good options at this point; now don't get me wrong, both are possible, but I am pretty sure neither filled with the Spirit.

Sound familiar to anyone else?  If you say no . . . well . . . with all the love in my heart, I dare say you are a big phat liar or just in severe denial ;-)  For I firmly believe that we must all live in this tension between God's yearning for us to simply embrace our BEING and the gifts that God gives us to get out there and do some serious DOING.  Neither posture is better then the other, but must always be held in tension; for if we sway too much to one side, we lose out on the opportunities that the other may provide.

So what do we do to balance this BEING and DOING that God demands and Christ's calling requires?  

We listen, we pray, we discern, we act, we reflect and then we do it all over again and again and again and again.

And as pastors, we must model a way to remain faithful to Christ's calling upon our lives in the midst of all the crazy that the world lays before us.  We must find appropriate ways to share the struggles of our humanity when we cannot deal and find ways to fully rejoice in those times when the God's will for our lives and our own discernment may align.  The pastors in my own life who have helped me to embrace the weight of pastoral ministry are those who do this well.  They do not try to pretend that are anything that they are not, they are not wholly driven by success and they are powerful stewards of the times and gifts left to their care.   They thrive in the midst of the world's chaos, because at the heart of their pastoral and personal life is a deep commitment to best model Christ in the world with all the BEING and DOING that such a calling requires.   Those glimpses of God's presence in their being AND doing constantly reminds me of what I hope to be and help others experience in their own lives.

I firmly believe that many of us pastors experience burnout because we cannot fathom the public acknowledgment that we do not have it all together and fully understand "God's plan" for our lives.  We are so driven by the doing of ministry and the need for acknowledgment and success that we sometimes justify this yearning by dismissing any brokenness its pursuit may create as part of our sacrifice to God.  In an attempt to move closer to God by our successes we move further away from God by distancing ourselves from those whom God lives through all around us.   I struggle with this all the time in my own need for recognition and influence and its effect of family, community and my own well-being.  What pursuits are of God, what are simply driven by my own vanity and can we ever fully separate the two?  

Now before you simply discount this little rant as irrelevant babble from some whining privileged American mainline protestant genX'er that has the luxury of complaining about such things, I will go ahead and please no contest.  I may be a whining entitled X'er, but I suspect there are quite a few of is that feel this way, so again, what do we do?

We listen, we pray, we discern, we act, we reflect and then we do it all over again and again and again and again.

So much of our pastoral authority should come from the very acknowledgment that NOT knowing "God's plan" in detail and STILL responding with gratitude is the greatest gift we can offer to the community.  The folks who open up their lives to us face the same pressures, struggles and expectations and the church should be a place where we can all gather to put aside worldly pursuits in order to find God in the midst of it all.   As pastors, we need to be a presence who can help folks find ways to find and experience God's peace in the midst of this chaotic world in which we live, sometimes faltering, sometimes succeeding, but always listening, praying discerning, acting, reflecting . . . repeat.  
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