Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thursday Thoughts...

So the crisis is treated for the moment (final resolution to be decided, but immediate flames have been doused). My midday sermon for the Anglicans was as close to a triumph as such a creature can get (I was invited back “any time"). I met with a couple I’m marrying in June (they’re getting married, I’m officiating, just for clarification), and they are just delightful!

I am feeling much better today, even though I don’t have the sermon even started for Sunday, I have to work at a bingo on Saturday, DP’s hurting (torn shoulder ligament), and I had to cancel a visit to my mom for tomorrow.


Clergy self-care. There’s a hot topic. Where do we draw the line between keeping ourselves strong and healthy on the one hand, and taking care of the flock on the other? It’s about more than boundaries (although that’s part of it). I think it’s also about time management—not the Franklin-Covey kind (but it helps). Jesus knew what his priorities were, and stuck to them. He took the time for retreats, to turn aside and pray. He didn’t even try to heal everyone who came to him, or to preach to very crowd. And he had his trouble with boundary issues too—remember the crowd that pressed around him so much he had to get in a boat and preach from there instead of among them? We need to take the time for our priorities—our relationship with God, our retreat time—in order to be strong enough to do the work God has called us to do. And of course there’s the issue of allowing other to do some of the work—we weren’t called to do all the work, but to lead others in doing the work together.

My mother was telling me about a church woman she was supposed to work with on a committee, who did all the work of the committee. As a result, the program the committee was supposed to work on together was much less rich and interesting. The committee chair wasn’t able to do it all herself, but didn’t ask for help either (in getting a guest speaker, for example, or finding other liturgical resources). The committee ended up doing some of the readings for the program and nothing else, although they were all willing to do more (and had let the chair know that they were available).

How many of us, as clergy and lay leaders, think that we have to do it all? I’ve fallen into that trap. When someone says, “We really should have a youth program,” or “a parish visitors’ program,” or “put our services on the local cable channel,” I start feeling guilty because I don’t have it in place, don’t have the first thought about how to put it together or what it would look like, and haven’t even considered who should be in charge of such a thing. I start thinking, “If I were really on the ball, I would have thought about this and have half a plan together already, at least in my mind.” Of course, the obvious answer to suggestions like that is, “That’s a great idea. Why don’t you come by the office Tuesday and we’ll talk about how you can put that into action.” Maybe we’ve read too many stories about the young pastor who turns around a failing parish in the inner city; or (in my case) about John Wesley, who wrote innumerable sermons, hymns, pamphlets and books, started a school, rode literally thousands of miles up and down the length and breadth of England, mentored new preachers, sent out missionaries, and oh yes, organized a whole new denomination… There’s no way we can live up to that, and we shouldn’t try.

We each have a call; that’s the only call we can answer. We need to respond to OUR call, not to John Wesley’s call, or LutheranChik’s call, or Will Smama’s call (unless we happen to be John Wesley or LutheranChik or Will Smama….). We can’t do it—we can’t do what someone else is called to do, and if we try to do it, we will inevitably fail. So—answer your own call, take time to listen to God, and let other people carry part of the load.

I think that's a big part of my issues. I keep comparing myself with other people, and their successes (or failures). When I was new in the transfer process, for example, I met a pastor who had started a new church--she had worked part-time in social work and part-time as the pastor of the start-up church. She was an incredible preacher, had a charm and energy about her, and was (and is) a "golden girl," marked for promotion and progress in our denomination. I was in despair because I'm not much like her (young-nope; fiery energetic speaker--nope; charisma--nope; second job--nope). But then a wise friend pointed out that Golden Girl had certain gifts but lacked others; she prefers starting churches or re-energizing churches to working to grow existing churches. I have gifts she doesn't and vice versa. "No one has all the gifts of the Spirit," my friend commented, "and that's probably a good thing!"

God needs my gifts, too. We are all members of the body of Christ, and it takes every one of us to do God's work properly. If we each answer our own call well, then God's will is done.

Oh, were you folks listening, too? I was preaching to myself, but, hey, if the stole fits….


LutheranChik said...

Wow...I've never been an example before! LOL

If you read my blog tonight...I tend to be something of a control freak (which is really funny because I constantly teeter on the edge of chaos, organizationally speaking). It's very hard for me to not want to do everything myself. It's hard for me to say, "I need help" -- I even get told that on my job evaluations.

Quotidian Grace said...

Great observations about the difficulty so many of us have with delegating to others and including empowering them to act on their ideas.

If we all wait for "them" to do it, it doesn't get done, does it? And no one of us can do it all.

RuthRE said...

True dat.

Sue said...

Great post! I've been thinking and posting about boundaries also. I really resonate with that instant guilt when someone says, "We really should be doing X, or Y, or Z" -- my immediate reaction is to feel badly that I haven't done it already.

The thing is, I would never expect of anyone else what I expect of myself. screwed up is that?

Over time, I'm learning more about appropriate boundaries but it's a very. slow. learning. curve. Painfully so.

And yes, God definitely needs your gifts, and so do we!

Revem said...


I appear to be on a similar journey. It is hard being everything to everyone and is important to take time for you.

You are a woman fearfully and wonderfully made by God. He delights in seeing use the gifts and abilities he gave you.

Blessings on your journey


net said...

Thanks for letting me listen in on your conversation with yourself. I found something I needed to hear! Thanks for being God's vessel. Be blessed!

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

Personalities fascinate me--people do. One way I try to understand history and places is through people--which is why I love good histor...