27 days down, but who’s counting 😉
Overall, this whole moderator experience has been pretty good. There have been few big surprises, many subtle learnings and an overall feeling of being blessed by the privilege to be engaged with folks in new ways. One thing that I find interesting is that, for the most part, people assume that this moderator experience is going to be overwhelming at best and downright disheartening at worst. And while folks have expressed excitement – or destruction depending on who’s blogs you read – about the possibilities for the church, any kind of expectation about my own growth and transformation has been pretty silent.
For the most part there seems to be this idea that the holder of this position holds this office for the pure purpose of being the target of vitriolic rants, receiver of flowery accolades, maker of decrees, wielder of power, etc. And while I am not so naive to think that there is not some of all those things, my focus over the next two years is somewhat selfish . . . but in a good way and one that I hope we can all embrace. Answering this call is and will be about continuing to grow into who God hopes for me to become. And not to disrespect the office of moderator, but this is simply the place where I think God has placed me in order to keep growing in my understanding of Christ’s call on my life.
Aren’t all of our calls to ministry like this. Leadership is about continuing to grow in our relationship with and response to Christ: moderator, pastor, elder, parent, etc. God is never done with us.
Like ministry in itself, I say NO to those that assume that this new ministry is anything but a joyful burden or welcomed responsibility. Sure, like any form of ministry, there is going to be crud to deal with, but let me be very clear about my hopes for the next two years: I believe so much that God will use all of our efforts in the building of the Kingdom here on Earth that, in many ways, the pressure is off and I am freed to follow Christ as best I can.
This is exciting.
The way I see it, is that we are ALL trying to faithfully respond to God as revealed to us by Scripture and the movement of the Spirit. That does not mean that we all agree or even have to stay together in some kind of institutional relationship, but I will say over and over again, if we do not have even a glimmer of trust that the other is being faithful to God, we have cheapened our covenant with one another and must figure out how to be gracious in the aftermath of that revelation.
Truly believing that others are following God is hard hard hard.
One of the ways that I have been forced to really live this idea out over the past few weeks is by going through the process of hearing/reading what people are saying about me. And while most of the feedback has been pretty encouraging it is not all puppies and butterflies when people reflect on my leadership, beliefs and/or personhood. Again, this is to be expected, but it is still hard to read. I am still a person that expects grace from brothers and sisters in Christ,
I know my eldest daughter reads many of the things that folks are
saying about their dad and, like most pastors, I want people
to like me.
Welcome to ministry for any of us. People, truth, passion, ministry.
While my mother is not very happy about the things that people are saying about me, for the most part, I manage to walk in that tension between not taking things personally, hearing folks as part of the larger story of the church and allowing words of transformation to enter my own spiritual journey.
Sure, there have been times when I have wanted to lash out, defend myself, try to fight one person’s truth with my own understanding of truth. At my best, I try to respond with grace so folks have some idea that they have been heard. At my worst, my inside voice is saying, "I’m rubber you’re glue, bounces of me and sticks on you." Fortunately I have not actually written that . . . yet.
But still I struggle through my own missteps, the consequences, the misunderstandings, the less than kind words. I fight my inner ego to want to lash out with words hate and prayers of destruction. Like I said, I am trying to grow into who God wants me to become and I think the thing that I am working on right now is listening and being gracious regardless of what I hear.
When I begin to fall back into my less-than-gracious self, I remind myself of a few things:
- No person is one-dimensional;
- Everyone has a parent, child, mentor and/or friend who experiences the holy through them;
- I can push back w/o attacking;
- Sometimes NOT engaging is the best response;
- Most of the time it is not really about me;
- Child of God, Child of God, Child of God;
- Face of Christ, Face of Christ, Face of Christ;
Needless to say, none of us is perfect and this imperfect community has much to deal with in the future, but I thank God that the love, power and grace of Christ is bigger than any of us or any of this.