I read this today on Joe's blog: "'At the age of 25, I was a full-time pastor and a part-time Christ follower.' It’s a difficult sentence to read due to the reality of it. Even in ministry, it’s easy to put my commitment to Jesus on the back burner, but think that I’m doing everything for Jesus, when in reality the passion for ministry has taken place the passion for Jesus."
This is a concept I struggle with from time to time. It's hard for me to distinguish "my" Jesus commitment as opposed to my "work" Jesus commitment. I think the distinction might be easier if I held a secular job. It would be an easy test: "Am I praying? Am I going to worship? Am I serving others? Am I studying God's word? Am I taking time to build deep and meaningful relationships with others? Am I growing in faith? Am I being stretched?"
But some (or most?) days I don't know that I think that's a fair question to ask as a pastor. Granted, part of it is valid...the part where what I do needs to feed me and often as clergy we end up giving so much that we don't nurture our own souls. But when I teach (and learn from) two or three Bible studies a week, when I pray throughout the day for and with people, when I am serving others from morning 'til night with barely a chance to breathe or even process my day...I'm not sure that the reasonable question to ask is, "Are you doing more than this?"
Maybe it's the place I'm in. Maybe if I allowed my faith to be less central to the work I do it would be fair to tell me I should be doing more. Maybe I shouldn't be interpreting this question as meant for all clergy, but rather as meant for some clergy (or even those in ministry who aren't clergy).
I remember a few months back I had preached (maybe on sabbath--the fourth commandment?) and afterward one of my parishioners who works for Christian radio came outside and told me he was really struggling to hold the balance--between work and personal life. When your work is faith work, there seems to be an added something...importance? immediacy? relevance? I don't know the right word, but something that says, "you shouldn't let this slide...this is God's work after all." I mean really, you can't tell me it's easy to ignore a hospital call on your sabbath, or to not check in with that person you have been meaning to check in with all week because it's your sabbath. It's hard for most of us to put work aside and take a full day to be restored and rest. Arguably, I would say it's harder for those who do "God's work" to refuse to do that work for the sake of self--well-being, health, sanity.