Friday, October 1, 2021



A meaningful gift I received!
Three congregational settings in 5 years triggered the District staff to suggest I consult a counselor to investigate those moves. The suggested counselor was a pastor with specific training in mental health. After asking, listening, and contemplating the counselor stated that I have a "spirit of wanderlust." The counselor suggested if I neglected to reign in this aspect of my character the chances of longevity in pastoral ministry would be limited. I would appear, at least on paper as "too unstable." I wanted to continue being a pastor. My skill set was fairly limited to explore other vocations. My wife and I wanted to start a family. Someone needed to provide income, health insurance, and all of those things that provide for the typical, stable family. Thus I discovered ways and disciplined myself to suppress my wanderlust and act like a professional. 

Stiff & lifeless!

Everything can be suppressed. However, I had bouts when suppression seemed futile. If wanderlust was an intrinsic characteristic why was I attempting to lock it away? What about using it in a creative manner? Could it be enhancing instead of detrimental? I was provided opportunities to facilitate groups in spirituality, the first 4 Steps in Alcoholics Anonymous, and working with "at risk" teenagers in a Middle School setting. Instead of the usual droning of instruction I attempted to be more interactive and engaging. Given the task of enhancing morale at a healthcare facility where I worked as a chaplain, the other chaplains and myself provided root beer floats to staff as they came to their vehicles at the end of shift on a Friday afternoon.  Not to be forgotten, treats were personally delivered to staff working the other shifts. No group was to be neglected. It took time and creativity, but it was a morale booster. Yes, I received push-back from some administrators and peers, but it was worth it!  As most of my parish ministry has been in smaller congregations, I have taken advantage of props and nontraditional delivery methods for sermons. Maybe the message's details became clouded at times, but people remembered the overall theme in the days ahead. The willing and drive to seek out and create adventure in diverse aspects of life continues. Maybe it is now less threatening to others as I can be labeled a "crazy old person." It is now less damaging to my ego and job prospects!

Frozen Otter Ultra Trek finisher.
I sense the tension between staying within normative expectations and developing personal characteristics continues to exist. This is not the same as pushing personal agendas onto others. It is not imposing one set of characteristics as the only way to function in society. Those ways have and continue to be foisted and forced upon others. This generates anger, division, and an "us verses them" mindset.  Instead of being told to suppress characteristics, the opportunity to develop them creatively should be a priority?  This could make strong inter-personal connections a reality. It could foster more creativity in possible solutions for the imbalances in society and environment. As the adage goes, if we only color within the lines we only get what was already outlined on the page. 

There are days when I enjoy allowing the wanderlust to roam free. It takes my body and mind in areas of unseen beauty and exploration. It is in these adventures away from prescribed norms where I sense both freedom and fulfillment. As I progress away from the "make-a-living" aspect of life the wanderlust tugs me into "why not give it a try!"

My advice: no matter what age or stage of life explore and develop your characteristics and character!

White Mountains in Vermont
Staying within the boundaries, submitting to someone else's norms may define you as "normal", but are you really normal? We are all unique, precious, and priceless beings created by an adventurous God.

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