It was nice to be told that I'm not a failure even though my parenting falls short.
I've really been struggling lately feeling like I'm not measuring up to who and what I want to be.
I can readily point out the many areas where I'm failing as a parent. This article spoke right to me. And as I thought further, I saw how critical I've been of my pastor self too. So, I thought I'd write a similar piece but directed at pastors. Or maybe just directed at me. If it speaks to you too, even better.
I love my job. It is a privilege, an honor, and a blessing to share sacred space with people. It is the greatest privilege imaginable to be invited into their most tender places to offer comfort, peace, truth, and compassion. Those times fuel my spirit for the work I do. Caring in those ways and hearing painful truths can also feel very heavy. And in the midst of a myriad of responsibilities, it can be hard to
I am also an administrator, planner, communicator, leader, designer, quasi nurse-on-call (I'm in no way a medical professional, but on multiple occasions I have been asked medical advice or needed to step in after seeing symptoms that were reflective of a more serious condition), plumber, painter, problem solver, complaint department chair, worship planner, quasi- musician, and whatever-else-is-demanded-but-not-met go-to-gal. This part is exhausting. It doesn't have to be that bad, but when too many people call on you for too many things, it's downright exhausting and without anyone consistent/paid/constant to share the responsibility, it will wear you down.
Currently, I'm worn down. I feel tired on a daily basis. Sometimes it's not clear whether it's parenting, or wife-ing, or pastoring, or all-of-it-ing, but I'm weary. I know the signs. It's not good. It's not bad, yet, but it's not good either. This level of fatigue generally means one of two things in my life 1) depression or 2) burn out. At the worst of times, it's both.
In this state of tired, I can't see the forest for the trees. All I see are the things I am missing, getting wrong, or only doing half-way. And the cycle perpetuates itself quite nicely. Because once I've labeled myself a failure that label sticks like gorilla glue. It's a hard one to slough.
In an effort to lift the darkness, today, I will refuse to label myself a failure. Today I will claim the following:
You are not a failure as a pastor if you don't spend 10 hours preparing your sermon.
You are not a failure as a pastor if there is a growing stack of papers on your desk.
You are not a failure as a pastor if you haven't visited a certain parishioner because they just take it out of you.
You are not a failure as a pastor simply because someone always finds something to critique about you.
You are not failing as a pastor when you take time to read.
You are not failing as a pastor when you take time to clean your office.
You are not failing as a pastor when you spend time with your family.
You are not failing as a pastor when you spend time with colleagues.
You are not failing as a pastor when you send your bulletin information in late.
You are not failing as a pastor when you only pray once for a request.
You are not failing as a pastor when you take time to just be.
You are not failing as a pastor when you have to say "no".
You are not failing as a pastor because you over-committed.
You are not failing as a pastor when you allow Facebook to be your community.
You are not failing as a pastor when you don't meet the world's standards.
You are not failing as a pastor when you don't meet your own standards.
You are not failing as a pastor because someone else does part of the job "better".
I have to say, these are hard to write. I'm inclined to say, "but" after most of them. Not to you of course. But to myself. I could easily argue how each of these is a failure, and that's why I've been stuck. But for today, at least, there will be no rebuttal. What I do is enough. What I don't do is ok. I'm not failing as a pastor.
As God's way of shining a light upon my path, I spoke with a parishioner today who has been away and known nothing of how I've been feeling. And yet, as she thought of me and prayed, God gave her clear insight into my struggles and offered a word of encouragement through her. It was just what I needed to hear. She said, "Am I making sense?" And I responded that she was and that God gave her the exact message I needed to hear. I'm not failing. God is providing through me and the people have what they need.
My final thought on this, at least for today, is that as clergy, we are afforded the privilege of never working alone. God is always here, ready, as a helpmate.
Thank God for that.