Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Ministry is Grief
Without getting into too many specifics, this has been a hard week for me. Personal and professional concerns have weighed down on me. Sometimes I feel like I'm barely holding on while a swirling tornado rips apart everything I have spent my life building. (I watched "Twister" last week - it makes sense to me!) Some days the line between reality and nightmare is blurred. One of the best books I've read on ministry ("When the People say No") begins this way:
"To be a minister is to know the most searing grief and abandonment, daily and profoundly. To be a minister is to take as partners in solemn covenant those who are sure to renege. To be a minister is to commit, unavoidably, energy and passion, self and soul, to a people, to a vision of who they are born to be, to their readiness to share and live into that vision. To be a minister is to make that all-out commitment to a people who cannot possibly sustain it. That is the nature of ministry. The minister is called by their need, by their fundamental inability to be who they are born to be, by their fundamental inability to share and live into that vision in which the minister invests all. To be a minister, then, is to be forsaken, regularly and utterly, by those on whose partnership one most relies for identity, meaning, and selfhood. The minister's call is rebuffed and repudiated and grieved for, over and over again. For the minister is called by their need, by their fundamental inability to live into the vision and the compact into which the minister must live so totally. Ministry is called forth and occasioned by such grief and the emptiness of being nobody."