I recently sat down with a spiritual director for a very helpful conversation on my own relationship with God. Two things she said stopped me in my tracks.
"Silence is the language of God. Everything else is a poor translation." - Thomas Keating
And the other was this: For many, ministry is one of the biggest blocks to people having a meaningful relationship with God.
What? The very thing I feel called to do (ministry) could be the thing that keeps me from being (a child of God).
Hmmm. Yes, I've seen much evidence of this. Pastors burning out, falling from grace, losing it all because they chased the wrong things. Or simply drifting and forgetting to care for their own soul.
As I move into my second year of serving as a lead pastor, the invitations to do a million wonderful things are boundless.
It almost takes my breath away with all the opportunities in front of us as a church. We could help so many different kinds of people. You'd think it would feel euphoric and exciting.
But the ministry that could feel free and light surprisingly becomes heavy at times.
There's much to unpack in how a church discerns their unique mission in our world. But for now, this is the truth that I'm living into: In all that we could do, in all the people I could please, in all the ways we could change the world, I refuse to sacrifice my soul, my health and my family on the altar of ministry.
There aren't too many people who would stop me if I said yes to all the things. I'm realizing again and again that I have to know and trust, deep in my soul, in a different way of leading a church. And that's tough. Especially when it's hard to articulate at this point.
Some days, I want to. I want to do all the things. They make me feel special, important, effective, fruitful. It works for a little while. But I have fibromyalgia, so my body reminds me maybe earlier than most that I physically, spiritually and emotionally cannot sustain any kind of meaningful presence in the world if I keep up the pace required by some to "grow a church."
So I'm on a mission to explore all the nuances of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, a spiritual leader for a fantastic community in the Pacific Northwest, a female in leadership, a wife who wants a strong marriage, a mother who doesn't want to miss these early years, and a friend who longs for meaningful relationships.
I want to be part of a church that feels fully alive. One that people sense the Divine's presence among us. But I can't lose myself. I refuse to lose the very relationship with the Creator that would cause our work to feel joyful and light in the world in the first place.
And I'm on a mission to find another way.