Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Case of the Paranoid Pastor

While I was working out in the yard today, on this gorgeous November afternoon after a glorious morning of worship at my church, I felt the tentacle of paranoia began to wrap around my soul and pull me into that place of darkness and fear.

I've been re-reading the past few days the beautifully written book called "Leaving Church" by Barbara Brown Taylor, an ordained Episcopal priest who decided to leave her parish and her life as a priest.  Our stories are eerily similar at the moment.  Both of us pastoring in small towns, both seeing some success, although hers is considerably more than mine and I doubt that I'll ever be in demand or known as the "preacher of the year."  However, someone did come to church this morning because they listened to my messages online and wanted to experience them in person.  Both of us really eaten up by our positions and by our ministries.  Both of knowing that no matter how much we do, it is never enough.  

It is never enough.  There is always someone I won't have visited adequately in the hospital, someone who didn't find grace in my words and actions, someone whose special moment I forgot; always sermons inadequately prepared, articles hastily written, paperwork undone.  Always someone I've disappointed so egregiously that they've decided never to come back to this church as long as I am pastor here.  

I know there are rumors floating around, people not coming to worship because they are unhappy with other people there, or, more likely, with me.  I also know that while I may be doing a lot of things right, it is rare that I will hear about them.  And I will often not hear about the things I'm doing wrong until there is an explosion and someone says, "You mean you didn't know about this?"  People talk around me, not to me.  And all I know is something is wrong, something is off kilter.

And yet we had this really wonderful morning.  Much joy, much connection with the holy moments.  Many things are coming together, plans beginning to see the kiss of the Holy Spirit on them.  

But I'm worried, and having trouble get past it.  All I can do is wait this out, wait until someone speaks, wait upon the Lord in prayer and supplication, wait.  Wait and know that this is God's church, not my church.  Wait until someone is willing to break the silence.

Interesting time.  


Anonymous said...

I found your post through wandering the internet - I just wanted to say - yes. No answers - sorry - but yes, that is all so true.


Christy Thomas said...

It sounds like you have a great deal of experience here. Feel free to share more.