Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hard Times

We've all been listening to the news about the economy. People are losing their jobs, their homes, their sense of self-esteem. Yes, it is tough! Yes, the threat level seems higher than most can deal with, the frustration level high enough to drive people to desperate measures. After all, probably 10 years ago (yes, 10) I recall hearing of a man and his son who took out second mortgages on their HOMES to fly to Florida and by thousands of dollars of PowerBall tickets! They didn't win, and now are saddled with debt that may well have destroyed marriages and lost homes. Was it worth it?

Sometimes, in America, we are so focused on the so-called American dream that reality has no bearing on our decisions or judgments. We are currently at about 1/3 the salary I had before. We are struggling with bills, with housing, with medicine bills, with questions about the future.

I was essentially fired from a church that refused to do what they asked me to do when I was called as their pastor. I have enjoyed, I must say, being able to work a regular job and come home without carrying the job's problems with me. But the economical realities and my own self-professed satisfaction with the role as pastor - despite all the hell pastors are put through - lead me to consider seriously - very seriously - the possibility of returning to that boiling pot called being a pastor.

Now, I'll assure you, I'll be as careful as I can be to choose a church where my view will not be more radical than the majority, but the reality is that churches tend to present an image they THINK a new pastor would like to see; and we do much the same. In the process things said in the process get lost! And in a denomination where there is little to no support for the local pastor in that situation, that is a deadly combination in many situations.

So why would I go back - for the same reason that executive takes a lateral to another company when he or she would really rather take off and start a whole new career - perhaps writing books, or building homes, or guiding hunters, or . . . . We need the money and we find a certain unexplainable satisfaction in what we feel we are pretty darn good at doing.

I happen to think that I do a pretty darn good job of interpreting scripture to the congregation, but unless people are willing to hear how our holy writ REALLY addresses life in our time, my penchant does no good whatsoever. I've become Paul's clanging gong - only from the wrong end of his lesson. I like to tell myself I'm walking in the shoes of the disciples.

So, what's the life lesson in all this? That sometimes, in spite of drawbacks, we need to go with where our heart is - for me that's back into those troublesome organizations called churches. What's your area of satisfaction, in spite of the difficulties and hardships? Think about it!


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