As most of you know, Rose and I transitioned to a new home and new place of ministry a few months ago. And needless to say, the past few months have been hard. They’ve brought on unique challenges (and opportunities)—the kind of challenges we have limited experience of dealing with.
I sense myself waging the battle between getting our home in order and also trying to make new friendships. I have a new level of compassion on those who are forced to move every few years due to their field of employment.
As a pastor I believe the focal point of my ministry is based on the relationships I make and cultivate with people. I believe God shows up in those interactions in a way that He wouldn’t had the interaction ceased to exist. A pastor is often thought to be someone who influences others spiritually through relational interaction and leadership.
But what happens when a pastor hasn’t earned the right to be heard in a relationship?
This is the struggle I come up against, time and time again. And the struggle is only overcome through time and consistent pursuit of knowing others. This becomes a battle at times. A battle to ignore the voice that tells me all this effort is in vein. A battle to continue pursuing those who prefer to hide from interaction with me.
I have this big fancy word in the title of my position at my church: Pastor. And yet only one person has asked to get together with me to talk about life. One person, in over 10 weeks. You could look at that and wonder what’s wrong. I look at it and realize people are human and they’re unlikely to pursue time with me until they know I care about them.
The reality is I’m currently only a pastor in name and title.
As I come close to graduation from seminary I have heard the tales from professors who share about students who graduate and expect the world to run to them for all of their spiritual knowledge and insight. The plaque on their wall saying “Master of Divinity” is the title on which they rest their case. Shortly into their time they realize that the years they spent earning a degree led them to another place in life where they would have to earn the respect of others in order to be heard. The education only gave them a place at the table, not the right to be heard.
Pastor is my title, but it won’t be the role I’m fulfilling until I have earned it.
I’m doing my best to embrace the in-between stage: in-between arrival in a new place and meaningful relationships. We’re stuck in the middle, forging a way through the forest. It’s a hard road to trudge. Some days I wonder if these supposed meaningful friendships that enable me to serve others will ever come.
But then again, this in-between is where God shows up in surprising ways.
And I have faith that He will.
Becoming a pastor is not a title to wear.