I am very tired today of being a pastor, even as much as I love this church. I'm weary. I'm tired of people refusing to talk with me, and hearing about things being said about me and my pastoral leadership only after the fact. "Did you know such and such is leaving?" "Do you know about all the controversy and unhappiness?" Well, no, I didn't. Sorry.
I came to this church three years ago, and found a lovely community of people with dashed hopes stuck in the most unworkable church building I had ever seen. I came and did what I was told to do: get the building built. With my type of entrepreneurial personality, with my love of the impossible challenge, with my passion for spreading the news of the Good News of Jesus Christ, it was a good fit.
And so we did it. Unbelievable hard work, extraordinarily sacrificial giving, countless volunteer hours, a spectacular building committee, all undergirded by prayer and the leading of the Spirit of God: we did it.
In the midst of doing this hard work, the incredible people of this church have created new ministries, found new ways to reach out to their neighbors, new ways to care powerfully for one another. Our membership has grown by 25%, our ministries have grown with a far larger percentage than that. So many more children finding out about Jesus through these good people. Our elderly and shut-ins are getting more care and attention than ever. Almost daily right now, someone says, "I've got an idea for another ministry." And I say, "It sounds like you are hearing the voice of God. Go for it!"
Now, I am still who I was when I came here, although I'm older and deeply weary. I still have the entrepreneurial personality, I still love the impossible challenge, and my passion for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ centers and drives my life as it has since I was twenty years old. But now . . . I keep getting this sense that they got what they needed from me, and suddenly I'm supposed to morph into a passive little pastor who spends her time making sure everyone is comfortable and unchallenged. I'm sure this is a stretch, but I admit it, I'm hurting and hurting badly. Wounds bleed today.
For weeks now, I've been working 13 hour workdays. I collapse into a muddled heap when I get home. People say, "you need more time off." Yes, and then I'm supposed to ignore those who contact me with urgent health or life and death issues? With crumbling marriages who need just a bit of time and help to see their next steps? With dreams for expanding Kingdom work and deserve support and guidance? My writing ministry is gaining significant attention, and bringing in more people who then offer their services and gifts for the growth not only of this church but of the whole God-with-us world of grace. I should stop this? As for preaching weekly . . . how many would really like the responsibility of preparing a creative message week after week after week seeking to interpret ancient literature into modern understanding in a way that fully engages people of wildly mixed ages, interests and educational backgrounds? And then, remember, the number one fear of most people is that of public speaking. But I do this multiple times a week. I'm not immune to that fear any more than anyone else is.
Does anyone understand this? Can anyone recognize how very hard it is to be up in front, utterly vulnerable to constant criticism, to have every word, every action held up for scrutiny, to have every decision questioned? To have people really say, "You just work two hours a week." It is easy to say, "But you choose this work." And I answer, "this work chose me." However, right at this moment, I fully understand why the ministry of Jesus lasted only three years, why the crucifixion happened by then. I just hope I can leave this pity part and find the resurrection as Jesus did.