The Next Sunday and the Next...What On Earth Are Clergy Good For Anymore???

 


Each and every week, I spend the time that most pastors spend preparing for the next Sunday, and the next Sunday and the next Sunday.  Along the way, I call, visit, right notest to people.  There are meetings, some in person and some on Zoom.  I am creeping closer to having been in ministry full time for 30 years (just breaking 25 years).  That is kind of crazy to think about!


Like most pastors…I think…I have read many books.  Some good, some not so good. I have attended conferences and seminars to learn more, to be better at what I do. And along the way, I have learned that the quality of the work I do is far more subjective than I think anyone ever gives consideration.  Oh, sure, there are objective numbers like church attendance and financial statements that are measured but does that REALLY what this is about?

There is one phrase, in one book, that I go back to again and again. When I read it years ago it stuck and kept working its way deeper and deeper into my psyche and my soul.  It is this:

“People speak in various ways of wanting their pastor to be spiritually deep. The ordained person is expected to be a person of prayer that the person in the street cannot be.” 

Urban T Holmes. “The Spiritualiy for Ministry.” 34.


When I wrote, “Life Sucks Seek God,” I didn’t realize I was drilling down to the core of this very idea I had read years ago but that is the reality of things - and it is past time for us to name and work from reality and NOT superficiality.


We need…I NEED…clergy willing and able to name the truth of this too. We clergy are not the Messiah after all - we are just like everyone else in truth - human beings who are trying to be that person of prayer - devoted wholly to God but who are insufferably flawed and weak and selfish…the Bible has one word to describe us but we don’t like it - WE ARE SINNERS!  


There I said it.  Life Sucks and we are sinners. And we can’t deal with that and we clergy don’t want to offend anyone so we just put aside that word but that word works and it gets to heart and soul of it.  


Life sucks and we are sinners so…Seek God.


And I feel better saying it too.  I need to get it out.  Just like so much that I have kept bottled up for too long.  We need a good dose of this reality.  I don’t know why we keep hiding what the Good News is with some kind lame, generic label packaging.  It isn’t just some “sweet, by and by, God of the New Testament thing,” either.  We get the promise right in the prophets - those old, dead guys spouting doom and gloom:

Seek the Lord while he may be found,

    call upon him while he is near;

let the wicked forsake their way,

    and the unrighteous their thoughts;

let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,

    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  (Isaiah 55:6-7 (NRSV))


We don’t like them most of the time BUT again, lets be real - THEY GOT IT!!! They understood the times they were living in and they called it like they saw it!


Life Sucks.

We’re sinners.

Seek God.


Maybe Lent has already dug into me. Maybe it is that we live in times these prophets would surely recognize. Maybe it is that this pandemic has worn away my veneer…again.  Maybe I’m getting old.


Maybe.


I know clergy are retiring as soon as they can.

I know clergy are leaving ministry as fast or faster than ever.
I know, God keeps calling me to stay…to be that person in prayer.


Life still sucks.

We’re still sinners.

I will still seek God.



What will you do?



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