Saturday, December 23, 2006

Am I Obsolete?

Jack of all Trades and I went to The Church as We Know It together for the first time in I can’t remember. Jack owns a promising media company that specializes in video production, so he asked me to do a job with him. We filmed a church Christmas program. While I’ve not been to anything like that in a couple of years, its like I never missed a day. Same songs, same use of little children in angel wings, same wannabe soloist trying, but not succeeding, to hit the high notes, same street scene of folks walking through yesteryear, same wise men in bath robes, same manger scene, same little speech from the pastor at the end, explaining how this is the church’s gift to you, but that if you were blessed by it, you could give money to one of the wise men standing by the door on the way out. I might try that this year when my family opens presents. “Here are our gifts to all of you, and if you really like them, here’s how you can help me pay for what I gave you. My 12 yr old will come around now with a basket..." As per usual, I think too much about too many things, and this Christmas program was no different. But the main question it made me mull over was, “When and how do we realize we are obsolete?” Among the ministry circles I orbited, there seemed to be a tremendous effort to justify one’s existence and very little concern, if none at all, to ask whether or not one should just simply get out and do something else. In the latter years of my vocational ministry career, I read numerous books that tried to help liberate me from a feeling of guilt, anxiety, and self-loathing about my place and the job that I am doing. I heard messages addressing pastors to stay faithful and hold the course. I was even pointed in the direction of reading about and understanding that what I was experiencing was just a midlife crisis, was that I should just endure until it goes away and then I could be normal again. But nowhere did I hear any pastor give a talk about knowing when its time to get out of the ministry. Why is this so? As I reflect on this underserved need, I’ve landed on a few conclusions: 1. We don’t want to ask ourselves the question, “Am I obsolete?” For me to seriously grapple with this, I have to face the possibility that what I an doing is no longer effective, and is in need of drastic change. 2. Even after asking the question, some professional ministers would have no idea that their work is obsolete, because we all hold to the cliché’ that since Jesus would have come to live on earth, and die for just only one person, all our efforts will be justified if one person is ministered to. (Problem is going about finding that one person) 3. Some of us have been doing the work so long, we fear being able to find another job. We find ourselves trapped. (I promise, I am not making this up. I talked with a dude applying for a mission organization because he couldn’t find a job elsewhere.) Its not a question I can answer for you, but I will direct it toward you. Are you obsolete?

1 comment:

Blythe Lane said...

Good question. The more I'm out of professional ministry the more I am aware of how much I allowed myself to become obsolete by probably staying too long. Everyday as I engage with people I work with and try to feel out being a follower of Christ and what that looks like in my new setting, I see it. It's a weird mix of being uncomfortable and free at the same time.

Good to catch up on what's going on with you. Lots of life changes since I checked in last. Any new news on Bread & Cup?