A friend contacted me on Facebook recently. She and I went to China together back in 1999 when we were both in seminary. She is in her second pastorate in Colorado and seems to be doing well.
I haven't contacted her yet.
I know I should, but something keeps me from wanting to type a few words from my laptop to her. The sad thing, is that I know what that is that is keep me from doing this:
I have a sense of shame about where I am in regards to my calling as a pastor. I mean, I guess I could say, "Oh I haven't been up to much, just had a bad experience as a youth pastor, started a church that went down in flames and now I'm basically just doing supply preaching. How are you?"
A lot of shame comes from expectations or should I say not meeting expectations. I expected to be a hot commodity. Being a black kid in a white denomination that wants to appear diverse, I was kind of expecting to be snapped up. That didn't happen. One day I will go into the whole sorted story, but suffice to say, a lot of the past few years has been me trying to find someway to live out my call.
When things don't turn out as expected, you start to wonder if something is your fault. You start to see yourself as defective and maybe not up to snuff in being a pastor.
But the thing is, while it has been rough and dissapointing, I also have learned things along the way. My disasterous experience as a youth minister (there were actually two experiences) taught me that youth ministry was not my strength, and that you need to work with pastors that play well with others. My failed church start honed my skills in planning worship, preaching and developing a heightened sense of mission.
The thing is, maybe if I had a normal path as a pastor, I would have not developed the skills I have acquired in this odd journey.
My pastor friend Mary noted that you have to have confidence in what you do, because any potential church can smell desparation a mile away. I think she's right. That's the one thing that I need to work on more, my own confidence. That's not easy, but I think I am learning and getting better.
The shame is still there. But maybe I can work to see that God is with me and has called me. And God has given me the gifts to do what I am called to do. Maybe in time the shame will lessen.
I do need to write my pastor friend soon...