Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Creating Space for the Authentic

Also posted on the Christ the King, Wilbraham website:

Now in the last week of my Project Connect Immersion Experience at Christ the King, I’ve really started to reflect on what I learned during my time here.  While I’ll soon make another post about that topic in a general sense, I wanted to devote this space to one lesson I’ve learned in particular:

A couple nights back I was reading through some of the Psalms and thinking about my immersion experience when I came upon the following verses in Psalm 139:

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed… Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts (Psalm 139 14 – 16, 23).

Over the past couple months I’ve spent a lot of time working through what it’s going to mean to be a pastor while still being a real person.  If public ministry is a vocation where you’re “on” in some way almost all the time, balancing being a professional and a leader while still being a less than perfect human being (especially if you’re a pretty goofy guy like I am) seems like a daunting task.  On the other hand however is the fact that I feel very affirmed in my sense of call to be a pastor…  If I am correct in discerning God’s call, then it would logically follow that I could be a successful pastor without having to pretend to be something I’m not.

In the end I’ve arrived at the decision to be as authentic as possible going forward.  I imagine that no matter how well one acts to perfectly “fit the mold” of being a pastor, not being authentic could likely put a large barrier between myself and whatever congregation I’ll be working with.  In a world where we all feel pressured to fit various molds in various situations, I think in the end people crave authenticity.  While folks might appreciate authenticity in others, people crave even more for space to be authentic themselves. 

I’m sure my train of thought seems a bit dis-jointed here, but in conclusion the greatest lesson I’ve learned from immersion experience is that a central part of my ministry will be helping to create that space for others and guiding congregations in seeking to do the same.  Helping others to show that wonderful complexity and workmanship spoken of in the passage above can’t be a bad thing… and perhaps in doing so it’ll help me be a little more authentic myself.

God’s peace,
Dustin

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