I wonder if yesterday’s question about finding one’s place in this world left you feeling lonely or out of sorts. We all go through seasons of life when we feel as if we do not have a place to take root and thrive. Lately I’ve been wondering if that isn’t due, in part, to romantic notions about what it would be like to have a place.
In Peterson’s memoir (The Pastor), he stirs my thinking when he commentates on the many pastors who are disappointed or disillusioned in their calling. He also talks about how congregations often feel the same about their pastors. He suggests that perhaps part of the problem is expectation. Both pastor and congregation alike hope to “get things done,” and “make things happen.” He acknowledges that the pastoral role certainly shares some of the same components of a job description as other leaders, but he believes that the role of pastor has not been traditionally held by a person who “gets things done” but someone else altogether different.
He suggests that pastoral work is to be the person placed in a community to attend to “what is going on right now” – between people and with God. He talks about the kingdom of God as local, personal, and prayerful “without ceasing.” He says you cannot measure or count or even notice the true work of a pastor. He says this is basically an obscure, humble way of living. The role is context-specific and without a blueprint according to Peterson. I like the way this man thinks.
I want to expand the analogy.
Is this not also true of all the really important roles we each play?
I think it perfectly describes the calling of parent, spouse, friend, mentor, child, sibling.
To be any of those positions, isn’t it mostly about what is going on right now? Have you found, as I have, that to be decent at any of these relationships, it requires unceasing prayer?
Right now in my family my mom’s dementia has hit a new low of suffering. It’s requiring us to constantly be present and prayerful as we struggle to love, honor, cherish and manage the frustrations of losing our mom while retaining her physical presence. It’s very difficult. But I suspect it is among the most important work my siblings, father and I will ever do. We must abandon all hope of figuring out a way to not suffer or get frustrated; we must work to choose the best bad decision we can find; we must hope in something much larger than making things happen.
Today, your greatest work most likely will be done in obscurity. God be with you as you labor!