Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Dog and the Saltdogs

There was a song by a guy named Darrell Evans that I remember singing quite a while back, don’t remember the title, but the crescendo line of the song said, “and freedom is now the song of my heart.” That line means something different to me now than it did then. Last year I saw a former ministry colleague at a baseball game for our local semi-pro team. As we chatted, he asked me if I would be interested in taking his place as team chaplain next year, as he and his wife were moving to another state to take on a new ministry position. Not thinking much of it, I said I’d be interested, but left it at that. In March of this year, he called me up and asked again if I was still serious about doing the chaplain gig. Now to be completely honest, I must say I had ulterior motives in saying yes. Our new restaurant we are opening is only about a 5 min walk from the ballpark, so if I had a foot in the door with the team office, I might be able to do a little good-guy marketing, plus I can get free tickets to any home game I’d like. I wrestled with feeling guilty or putting it in the “being shrewd” category. I chose the latter. This Sunday was my first home game to lead chapel. It’s the first time in at least two years since I’ve done anything of that nature. I felt surprisingly at ease leading up to it. Meeting the team for the first time was a lot of fun. It felt a little like my days at the university. There were five guys that showed up. We met in the dugout for about 15 min. I shared a thought about faith being the fundamental of our lives, that just like in baseball, without the fundamentals, you’ll miss the point of the game. Pretty short and simple. Players exit to their pre-game rituals. I take a stroll around the park before leaving for home. Reflecting on the experience on the way back, I couldn’t figure out why I was so nonchalant about the whole matter. When I was a professional and would do one of these kinds of engagements and only five guys showed up, I’d be in the tank, but not today. Why was I so free? The thing I concluded was that since ministry is no longer my identity, I am not tempted to attach some kind of personal meaning to the situation. Ministry as a vocation did a number on me, as I tried so often to justify my existence through my performance and the perceived outcome of my job. Ministry as employment may not be for me ever again. Freedom is now the song of my heart. I’d like to keep it that way.


Blythe Lane said...

Some good thoughts here. Your comments in the last paragraph about ministry and identity really resonate. However, I think I now wrestle some with "what really is my identity"? Ministry or professional, I still think my heart craves feeling purposeful about something and having an identity to share with others.

I was thinking about you guys the other day and wondering when the Grand Opening is? I can't wait to see what is taking shape up in Husker Land!

glenn said...

Kevin... A personal experience with freedom and grace kind of causes one to go, "Ahhhhh!" What's up with Bread and Cup?

Blythe... It sounds like we have been struggling with the same type of issues. I still don't have it all sorted out, but after over twenty years as a pastor, I am now pursuing community service work and trying to facilitate a house church. At this moment, I am sort of taking a breather from it all and I am finding it strangely refreshing.