Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WANTED: a Friend

I know I get awfully negative on this blog, but it's the only place I have to let loose. Maybe the following will make it clearer as to why.

I didn't get into ministry for the money, but I can't work for free. Although some preachers do it, I don't know how to work another job that also allows me to minister to a church.

I spent a major portion of my life preparing for the ministry. I underwent many years of expensive formal education and I have never done anything but ministry, so it's not like I can change careers easily (although I sometimes daydream about that).

I once worked with a church that was still grieving for their last pastor. Many of them were bound and determined not to like me. Grudgingly they'd tell each other, "The new preacher is friendly." Then they'd add, "But of course, that's what he gets paid for."

My reply was, "Not enough," and I moved on.

We clergy people get into the ministry because we love the church, but it doesn't take long before we become angry with them. In many dysfunctional families, the person who tries hardest to help the others is blamed for all the problems. It happens a lot in churches too.

I actually like to work hard. But what would it be like to not be tired? I can only remember brief moments of peaceful energy. Every moment of rest or recreation feels like I stole it. If I take off, someone dies, gets divorced, or plots some kind of childish coup at the church.

Okay, it's hard everywhere. There's no such thing as an easy job. I'm lucky to have a job at all. But when one of my church members encounters difficulties with his job, he can turn to the church for support. The preacher has to go elsewhere as far away from his church as he can in order to discuss his struggles. And if he loses his job, he can't ever go back even to visit the worship service—makes everybody too uncomfortable.

The minister's family suffers the same isolation.

When I was young, I needed and loved the church, and the church loved me. I thought it would be wonderful to serve the people to whom I was so close. But as the minister I have often been the most isolated person in that church. Some people put me on a pedestal and make me into someone they need. Others use me as a target for their irrational hatred. Almost no one really wants to know me

All of this could be manageable if I had friends outside of the church. Some ministers can do that, but I seem to have forgotten how. That's a shame, because I think I'd be a good friend.

10 comments:

  1. You ARE a good friend! ~K

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  2. There are few occupations as lonely as that of a minister. My father was one, and I dabbled in it for a few years ... I know the feeling intimately.

    If you ever come to Michigan, send me an email. I'd love to have coffee with you, catch a movie.

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  3. Go to the local strip bar. I hear tell there are lots of friendly peeps there...

    I wish you were closer to NY. You'd love my parties..and we could do that whole coffee thing.

    Have you ever thought of joining any kinds of clubs around town? Something to do with whatever hobby you have? You like SciFi, join a local SciFi group. There are lots of Firefly fans that have made groups. They get together and party all the time.

    Or get moved here. You and the woman would have fun meeting new people and we could use your boys for slave labor, I mean, babysitting...

    I know it isn't the same as face to face, but you got a pretty good friend base online. I'm thinking when you finally give up the (holy)ghost, and decide to runaway like I did, you'll have lots of places to run away to...

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  4. Thanks everyone for coming to my pity party.

    K, thanks. You are too.

    brgulker,you know, it's a long way in distance, but coffee and conversation (plus a movie)would sure be worth it.

    Sistermoon, you are two hoots and a half! Strip club, huh? My church members wouldn't like me intruding at their favorite fellowship pastime! We don't have clubs except FFA (Future Farmers of America). I'm afraid they wouldn't know what to do if I showed up in a Klingon costume--they might wanna brand me. And I was saving the Holy Ghost for halloween.

    But coming to NY to see you sounds really nice--someday I've got to come to one of your parties. BTW, I've said before, athiest or not, I'd hire you for an associate minister just for your events planning skills. Beats the potlucks we have here.

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  5. If you're ever going to be in Ohio lets grab some coffee or beer or whatever you like. :-)

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  6. Hey Mike, sounds great. Ohio would be just far enough away that I could get away with drinking a beer.

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  7. I don't think this will make you feel any better, but this problem is inevitable. It's part of the deal. So you break your life open over this altar, spilling our all your nard. Blessings come with that sacrifice. It's a good thing to lay down your life.

    And then one day a turn may happen, and it will be time for your life to come first. Maybe you will leave this calling. I don't know. But I never could keep it all straight. I never could get past the problems that come when you are paid to do the Lord's work. I finally left it altogether. Three weeks now I've not been a pastor. The restful peace of Sundays is good for me now.

    Blessings on you as you live in this struggle.

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  8. RLP, thanks for writing in. I've tried to leave a couple of times and was miserable then,too. I wish you better fortune and may you enjoy your well deserved peace.

    Your metaphor referring to the breaking open the pint of nards is beautiful and affirming. Thanks so much for mentioning it.

    BTW, I love your blog.

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  9. Yeah, put me on your itinerary for when you're in New York, too!

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