SSU. That factoid is both bitter and sweet.
Intended or serendipitous the 3 tracks of this module are demanding a great deal of introspection. At the heart of all 3 tracks is the question of my own heart. My vocation is being a pastor. I get paid for it, but it’s not really my job. It’s more like an assignment. And the questions being shoved in my face: what does healthy pastoral care look like, how would the prophets asses me as a shepherd, how would the Chief Shepherd evaluate me, what masks have I put on to cover up the broken pieces in my own life?
In the midst of this process I read a post today about a mega-church that has had a major turnover in leadership with the well-known senior pastor being the “last man standing”. All the departing elders and leaders had to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to get the generous severance package they were offered. Silence comes with a pretty nice price tag. And I'm left trying to imagine what scenario a church member would have to be in to see leader after leader asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement about their experiences on the leadership team of their church and they wouldn't think something was seriously wrong?
Disclosure seems to be a big part of this module. The assignment that I'm using this post to procrastinate writing is a 700 words-ish paper on the masks of behavior I use to hide behind. We've read a text that we can draw on and while I don’t feel any one “mask” the author lists is a fit, I can see pieces of my camo in several of them. I know that I sometimes become passive and indecisive in order to avoid making the “wrong” decision. There are times I feign ignorance of the effects of my own actions when I really had a very good idea going in that someone was going to get hurt/disappointed/let down. Sometimes I get “busy” on a project simply to avoid dealing with that which needs to be done. I sometimes put myself down to trigger others to compliment me
But not all the time.
A key step in recovery (from the fall) is brutal honesty. It’s easier to practice that on others than it is on myself but only when I practice it on myself can I recover. Practising it on others can be one more mask to avoid my own … stuff. I am not the person I used to be and neither am I the person I am becoming. But following Jesus has given me a greater sense of comfort in my own skin. Rather than the shame and guilt that is so often connected to Christianity I find in following Jesus a growing sense of self-acceptance and confidence to be real and pursue authenticity. As a pastor currently swimming in the Old Testament prophets, I want to be a shepherd who doesn't tell people what they want to hear but what they need to hear. But this means, for me, acknowledging that every message I speak needs to first be received by my own soul.
I've still got a lot to learn but this much I know, I will never ask my other leaders I work with to sign non-disclosure agreements about their experiences with me. If I fear people speaking the truth about me I’ve proved the message of the Cross. If I fail to encourage those I live with to speak the truth about me and our experiences together, I've negated the power of the Cross.
"Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
I'm getting there...