|Me (Summer 1981)|
Moving into the parish setting I searched for significance. There was the given power and authority conveyed by the title. I attempted to become well versed in traditional and proper Lutheran theology. A course for clergy on marital relationships promoted God's intention for the man to be the leader and authority. The instructor stated God's intention went beyond the institution of marriage for men to be in charge. Wrap around collars were in the wardrobe. What I said was followed (at least on the surface) by others. Yet I questioned if this was authentic for me. Was I playing a role in the theater of religion?
|Loading cattle from the pasture|
While specialization has its place, my skills are being a generalist. Being a pastor has provided the opportunity to explore so much of life and get paid to do so. The prestige of being above the common crowd is no longer significant. There is no desire to be honored or remembered by those with whom I interact. I cringe at my photograph hanging on a congregation's "wall of past pastors." As of today it appears the longest tenure of my career will be with the smallest congregation I have served. It is a group that is learning the process of selling a building and adapting to the realities of being a fluid gathering of people. Even congregations have a life cycle.
What would I change in my career of pastoral ministry? Nothing! The journey has provided challenge, struggle, growth, and serenity. I am who I am. I have provided quality pastoral care. Some of which was not authentic, but I do not believe much harm was caused. God's grace covers a multitude of sins! (1 Peter 4.8)
I enjoy authentically being with people. I have no need for a role in religious theater. My goal of being a "flunky rural pastor" has been met!