Pastors and Christian leaders commonly think, “I have to act like a clergy at all times?” Wherever a pastor or Christian leader is at the store, church, home, with family or in town, they feel that they have to act as a clergy/pastor persona. Part of this is absolutely true. Once you decide to go into ministry, you put yourself and family under fire and your house is a glass house. All that is true.
This is what I like to call the Pedestal Syndrome. It is frustrating, we (as ministers) tend to put on unreal expectations on our own self! In reality we are human too. We are not perfect people. Worse, we feel guilty for not meeting those unhealthy expectations. Next this can provoke, a “fake” you….you never really feel free to relax and be yourself, because we feel you “have to be pastor.”
Do you remember the call to ministry in your life? Think about your sense of God’s call in your life. What passages in the Bible describe that call? What was your experience life when you knew that you were called? Which biblical figures/characters do you relate with? Where were you? Put yourself in that place for a moment. What Biblical passages come to mind in regards to your calling? Recall those Scriptures that really encourage you, even today in your ministry. Write about this experience. It is important to not censor your writing in the process. You are not trying to compose and essay on the call. You are simply writing without stopping for 10 minutes or so. Then go back and read what you have written and see what that evokes in you. if you need to look something up quickly in your Bible that is fine also. Meditatively and prayfully just write, free-flowingly…Don‘t throw away what seems irrelevant. Save it and see what God does with it later.
Here are some ideas to boost your spiritual thought this week:
Option 1- One practice that can strengthen your own spiritual life is the silent meal. This is frequently practiced in monasteries. There is a freedom in not being expected to speak and interact with others. It offers you an opportunity to draw within yourself.This can be practiced even at a fast food restaurant. Order an inexpensive meal, choose a table, and enter into a time of silence in the midst of the cacophony of the world around you. As you sit down at the table, before you unwrap your meal, begin your prayer time. Begin with prayers for all those who had some part in preparing the meal before you, taking that as far back in the food process as possible. There was someone who has raised the animal or planted and cared for the vegetables that you are about to eat, who prepared the paper, designed the package, etc.
After about ten minutes of prayer, begin to slowly unwrap your simple meal and occasionally take a bite or sip of my drink as you continue your prayers. As much as possible, pray with your eyes closed and your mind totally focused. You might pray for people or situations in your ministry, or pray for colleagues that you know are having a difficult time. Prayer for at least one-half hour from the time that you sit down at the table.
Option 2- Take short periods of time in the beginning. Determine to take a half-hour break in which you will explore how Scripture can speak to you about the attributes of God. Use a concordance to identify some adjectives that praise God. Gather up several of them and then spend some time exploring the nature of God through these adjectives. That might come in the form of a word study or it might be in the form of contemplation around one or two of these adjectives. Whatever your approach,, the purpose is to focus your attention on the wonder of God.
The time limit of one-half hour might even serve the advantage of intriguing you so that you want to set aside another half-hour at another time to continue the experience. Discipline yourself to avoid thinking of how useful your work might be for a sermon, a class, etc. This is time to place yourself purely in the presence of God in a loving way. However you go about it, keep some notes on how it makes you feel. If one aspect of the Sabbath is to step outside of the normal pace of life to nurture relationships, this is a way to begin with a short Sabbath experience of loving God.