I’ve recently been struggling through questions of calling, effectiveness, and “next steps” (even though I feel fully affirmed by the employees I serve–and its leaders–as well as other pastoral leaders in my life). I’m in the boat, paddling, but it seems like the waters ain’t “cute” anymore. They’re getting faster and more complicated.
Based on the readings, it seems very natural and part of the life cycle of a pastor. I found the articles to be spot on with regards to my own questions, tensions, and desires. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s not to run from pain but to see what it might have to teach me.
For me, the articles are pointing to a reality that I’ve been wrestling with:
- what are my strengths and weaknesses
- what is my effectiveness and how do I measure it (being cautious of do quality ministry over quantity)
- how do I sustain myself long term
- who are the people in my boat that can help me navigate these waters (I have a few…you know who you are!)
- as a marketplace minister, what unique challenges do I have
The following articles are proving to be helpful and I hope they are beneficial to other pastors who are going through the process as well. This is only a preliminary reach of understanding the life cycle as a means to deepen the pastoral call and work. May God grant us wisdom and strength as we seek to live faithfully and fruitfully in Him.
It’s taken me a while to learn that we teach people how to treat us. If someone is being hurtful purposely or unintentionally (i.e. “I didn’t mean to”), it’s my job to kindly address their behavior and how it’s affecting our relationship connection. My responses were to isolate or withdraw myself. Even worse, I’d internalize the problem and think it was somehow my fault. It was too much of an emotional cost not to be truthful about my emotions. My previous actions would also perpetuate the other person’s ill-behavior, which was damaging the relationship-connection. Once I began to value the relationship (and myself), it was easier to share how I really felt.
The Boundaries folks do a good job of explaining this pattern in the article below:
We must create spaces for us (and others) to kill our versions of God that are not coherent with life and scripture. In some ways, we must become atheists in order to confront ill-images of God. The Israelites did it through protest and lament (see the Exodus story and the Psalms). The hope is that once we can kill these images of God, we can find courage to see God’s redemptive goodness and have new operative images of God that convey healing and hope.
My client arrived at her conclusion that perhaps God was not who she had always thought God was only after a period in which I helped create space for her to “destroy” God with her complaints, groans and protests. And believe me, she had lots of legitimate reasons to be angry! When God didn’t strike her dead, or abandon her, and I didn’t leave or shame her (beliefs she had internalized from her faith community and her interactions with parents), there was space for her to begin to “find” God in new and different ways. Maybe God had not rescued her from a life of trauma, maybe God had not delivered her from the consequences of that evil, but maybe, just maybe, God was still at work and maybe she could get to know this new God without throwing him away or living with a false self and false God.
Abusive behavior is wrong. What’s the solution? How can we help?
Here’s an interview with Vinnie Colaiuta by Modern Drummer. I’ve been researching articles on drummers, session work, and becoming an integrated musician because I’m being asked to play in the studio. It is proving to be a challenge. For one, it is exposing my lack of practicing and technique. It is also exposing my musical soul.
I love to play and usually do it from the hip. I shoot from the hip a lot in life; whether it be music, pastoring, or recreation (i.e. “let’s go the movies” last minute). My hope is that “my-shooting-from-the-hip” is shaped and formed by all the stuff I’m pouring into myself-personal reflection, perspectives from others, disciplines of studying/practicing. So it’s a “hip-shot” but my hope is that it has some depth to it.
One of my biggest passions in playing came from feeling like it was a transcendent experience. It felt like when I played, I was closer to God and Him to me. This is not about using or conjuring religious jargon. It was about space and time slowing down, and feeling like something special was happening.
Here’s a quote from the interview. Vinnie is not just a drummer. He’s a lover of life:
Beyond skill and talent, what are the keys to being a success in the music business?
Other than skill and talent and the personality to maneuver through all of that, the rest of it is a blessing and you have to do it all to glorify God. If I say this to people, they’ll interpret it in a religious, dogmatic way. But I am talking spiritually. I’m not trying to represent myself as some bastion of spiritual goodness. It takes a level of humility and recognition of what your source is and who your source is. You have to recognize where the source came from and be grateful for it. That then filters into the personaltiy needed to maneuver in the music business. Just being genuine and true to yourself – those are all things that are immutable. Getting along with people and being as true as you can be to the music and to yourself is what it’s about.
I avoid using certain words that will conjure up any kind of association of inferior versus superior. That’s why when I say “be the best you can be” I don’t use any connotation of what the word “best” means because I don’t want to suggest the idea of competition or some high skill level you have to achieve to be some gargantuan Olympian sports type. But if you can find another way to conceptualize that, you’ll understand what I’m thinking or trying to say.
A great reminder for the beginning of the year to be fruitful through vulnerability, shared brokenness, and intimacy.
Fruits That Grow in Vulnerability
There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.
By Henri Nouwen
Here are some practical tips that can help with healing family relationships: “Choose to forgive. Holding onto a grudge will only eat you up inside and cause huge family rifts. The only thing worse than not speaking to a family member for three years is not speaking to them for three years and one day.”
Researching Mexican cultural traditions for the dead. I’m specifically looking at how Mexicans (hispanics, mexican-americans) view cremation. There are mixed views on it. Cremation, however, is becoming more acceptable.
“According to beliefs in this culture, the dead return on certain days of the year and are remembered through special events. The body must be buried for this to occur as cremation is not a common option in the Hispanic culture.”