Committed to the Non Committal
Last night, or this morning, I read one of those blog post about why being a pastor is hard. I have to say, in some ways I don’t like those. It is a hard calling but the good far out ways the bad and I am afraid that is missed. None of the authors are trying to say it is the worst job in the world, my hope is that those reading who are not pastors would know that their pastors see and relate to the struggles they have in what is considered a ‘normal’ job.
Our culture is sitting on go.
One thing that never makes the list and to be honest is my biggest struggle is the flakiness of people. My generation is bad at this but I do not see it any better with the older or younger. Our culture is sitting on go. At the slightest insult or inconvenience we bail. You get a cranky look from the grocery clerk and you switch from Kroger to Albertsons. At least, it used to be about things like that — I am afraid today most people will switch simply because the new is new or vogue or hipster. Relationally we condition ourselves to be unfaithful. At very early ages parents will use language like girlfriend and boyfriend. Fifth graders are said to have serious relationships. By the time you are a young adult you have learned that relationships are disposable, that others are for your sense of security, identity and pleasure. So you treat the church this way.
They do this and yet they have not sat, or served or sacrificed for her in months, some for years.
Add to this an unspoken rule for ministers to go somewhere and stay. Come hell or high water that pastor better not look around. When opportunities come he feels guilt and a perceived divine displeasure that he might want to go and do and be. Weekly he sees people bail on the church for a fourth vacation, a baseball tournament or just a newer trendier church down the road. Daily, I cross paths with people who still call our church home. They do this and yet they have not sat, or served or sacrificed for her in months, some for years. I have known people to cross their arms and decide to sit and pout and not return to the church simply because they think they thought they knew what I was thinking. They did not.
So what can we do about this real and the possible pain of the noncommittal.
- Realize the church is made of individuals. As pastors we tend to see the whole as one. So when a few people flake we feel as if everyone is or soon will. This is not the case. Individuals may be flaky but the church by and large is probably not.
- Remember you serve One with everlasting faithfulness. Jesus is our chief concern. He has not nor will He ever bail. Don’t let the seed on the thorny ground choke out your commitment to the work. Ultimately, you are not committed to the noncommittal you are committed to the one that was absolutely committed. He is our source of faith and faithfulness.
- You are free to follow. Along the same lines as number two, if God calls you away to a new place — go. There is no guilt in that. Paul moved. So did Peter. You go where you are assigned.
- Guard your heart that’s prone to wander. I think it is best that God call a pastor away. I don’t think men serving in churches should actively seek out other positions, as a general rule. A way to guard against your own bend toward bailing is to put rules in place like not putting your resume out unless it is asked for and having a very clear idea of what God has called you to do. I doubt God has called some men to specifically be the pastor of the next biggest and wealthiest church so you will have to come up with something else.
- Tell them. It is not shepherdly to ignore this problem. Don’t let people make the little comments about ‘seeing your Sunday’ or ‘when soccer settles a little’ or ‘we really need to hang out more’. In some compassionate way, you have to let them know that their lack of commitment has lasting spiritual, parental and personal consequences.
Most of all remember this, it is not an insult to you. Even those who would rip me apart on social media are really saying more of themselves than they are of me. Have the strength to lead forward by following behind.