So here I am.
Exciting, isn’t it.
I imagine that the way I feel right now is similar to some nameless NFL player who has been in the league for almost a decade but is barely known by even the most hardcore of fans. Of course comparisons are never completely accurate. Metaphors always break down at some point.
However, the hurt has passed. I am saddened by how things turned out, but I do not think I miss it nor do I really want to go back. One of my wife’s uncles said it well about his attempt at pastoring – writing with your non-dominant hand. Sure, I am capable, but it never feels right. Over time, pastoring would possibly be habitual; I could train myself to get used to it.
But really that is part of the problem. Square pegs do not want to get used to circle holes, they want to find square holes. The flip side seems to state that you can achieve very little if you do not train. I do not disagree. My motivation to train is for something I want to achieve. Achieving at pastoring is not something that motivates me. If we were able to quantify pastoral achievement, it would be remarkable because there are no real measurements.
Pastoring has a way of consuming the individual with the trade. Because the ultimate goal is for people to depend on God completely by God’s grace, it is difficult to know if you are doing your job well. A good pastor might have an increase in a worship service by 20% over the year before whereas a great pastor might have a decrease of the same. Despite the current buzz in certain circles, more leadership in the church does not necessarily mean better Christians or more spiritual growth. Finances may or may not accurately reflect the generosity of the members. Of course, the inverse may also be true. Numbers reflect results that only make sense to the context you apply them. These are but a few things that pastors consume themselves.
Over the past few years, I have read a number of books dealing with passion. Among my favorites has been The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson. Robinson makes a solid case of following your passion as a way to feel like you fit. Following true passion is achieving your dreams. Several other books said the same. As a pastor, I was somehow unable to feel passionate about almost anything. Sadly, I did not even feel passionate about pastoring. That was one of the first signs that I realized professional pastoring might not be for me.
One of the problems when you are not passionate is that your dreams are not very… dreamy. It also tends to lead to crushing others’ dreams. Of all my regrets in life, this is the area that causes me the most pain. We might agree that not having dreams is pretty bad. I would like to argue that crushing the dreams of others is infinity times worse. Perhaps my pastoral nickname should have been “Crusher” because that is what I did. Sadly, I think of several whom I did this to. The phrase, “hurt people hurt people” was definitely true in my case.
For the slight chance that you, my reader, were one of the ones that had your dreams crushed by me, I am truly sorry. Two specific young ladies, separately (can a 34 year old guy really call anyone young?) were kind and vulnerable enough to share their dreams and concerns with me last year and I bluntly threw a cynical reality at each of them. Save your curiosity, neither case ended well. It was from my lack of empathy for those two ladies in particular that I realized there was something deeply wrong.
I share this last part about dream crushing because I want to make clear that I am not just an unsuspecting victim whose world was unfairly crushed by others. Sure, people hurt me. I hurt others. One of the biggest prompts of me leaving the professional pastorate is that I unnecessarily hurt others. This is not to say that my lack of being a pastor keeps me from hurting others, because I am sure that I still do. However, there is a difference. If and when someone came to me for comfort, I played the logic of the nail video attached below. Instead of listening, I tried to fix them. They were not ready to be fixed and I was not the handyman for the job.
I really did not think this possible, but there will be an Episode V. A burning sensation wants me to tell you where I am now; about what things have happened in the past six months and how God is changing me.
Thanks for reading.