i met with a few colleagues today who are faithfully slaving away in the salt mines of the parish. i handed one a copy of a book i am about to read entitled Quit Going to Church. he slowly shook his head and mumbled something to himself. i asked him what he just said and he replied with a sigh, “you have no idea how many times i’ve wanted to do just this!” gently pushing him, i asked him to clarify his comment. “i mean,” he says, “you have no idea how many times i’ve just wanted to walk away from all this (referring to his call as a pastor). i think i would have done it years ago if only i was only more creative.”
“yeah. more creative. i honestly don’t know what else i would do if i left the ministry and the church although, i’ve fantasized about it many times.”
here’s a guy who loves being a pastor to his flock. he, like many others, have invested thousands of dollars in a quality seminary education. he wants to serve Jesus and he loves the poor and wants to work for justice to “the least of these” of our world. he wants to hold the hands of those who are dying in the hospital and talk with a young adult about her faith in God. what he and scores of other pastors are wearied and beat down by are the constant lapping waves of criticism, negativity, grumpiness and apathy of many members of their church. they invest hours upon hours away from their homes and families trying to make a difference but are more often than not repaid with lack of participation or commitment in ministries and projects the people say they want but don’t take advantage of after the pastor has poured her soul into trying to develop a ministry she heard the people tell her to develop.
i’m one of those pastors. i’ve been a parish pastor for 26 years. like my colleagues, i entered into the ministry to try to make a difference in the world for the cause of Light. i have worked hard and diligently and have done the best i could do in the parishes i served.
and i thank God for those opportunities. i thank God for trusting me, and those laboring in the same vocation, with the privilege of serving the Holy in a way we have been allowed.
but i’m tired.
i am feeling mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually tapped out. i want to live my faith out in the world – sharing my winsome feelings and passion for Jesus Christ – but i am worn out by petty church administrative bullshit. there are people who need help, lives who need to be touched, hands to be held in the midst of grief. there are people living in the woods out back of the local WalMart and people are grumpy over the length of the sermon, the particular hymn that was sung, or the fact their name was misspelled in the section that describes who gave the flowers for the day.
and people huddle together just past the incandescent lights from the strip mall’s parking lot wondering how cold it’s going to get tonight.
like pooh bear, i can simply sigh, “oh bother.”
hence – this blog. i need an anonymous place to vent what it’s like to serve in the trenches of the local parish. i want fellow pastors to know they are not alone in their angst, pain, and fatigue. i want parishioners in the pews to get outside of themselves and try to understand what their local priest, pastor, imam, or rabbi is dealing with day in and day out. Perhaps, just maybe, they will learn something more deep about their faith or lack thereof.
i will admit. this first post sounds whiney. i’ll claim that and will say, ‘sorry ’bout that’ if that helps. just understand it’s coming from a person who is tired and on the verge of burn out. it’s coming from a point of view that i’ve staked my family, my gifts and graces, and my entire life and after a quarter of a century am tired of being made to feel like crap from parishioners because I “only work an hour a week” or “i don’t know what it’s like to live in the real world.”
again, Pooh sighs.
i promise, future posts will be more multi flavored in their approach. i just had to start somewhere and that somewhere is right here: maranatha
pax et bonum