My Reflections on Mexico City (Part Four) Who I am

I'm going to go ahead and confess that I've never really felt comfortable in the role of "Pastor". I love The Church. I love Jesus. I love seeing God's people at work mimicking the example Jesus set for us. But this whole pastoring thing has been a hard pill to swallow.
If all there was to pastoring was what I just mentioned then sign me up for life. But it's not. At least it's not what I have always been told a pastor is suppose to do. From the day I felt "the call" to go into full time paid church ministry I have had person after person, from congregation members to fellow pastors, from close friends to speakers at pastor conferences, telling me what a pastor is suppose to look like, act like, talk like, and do. Every book I've ever read on pastoring pretty much confirmed what everyone was telling me. But the truth is I've never felt like I fit any of the descriptions they were describing, or should I say expecting.

I think just wanted to serve in a church so badly that I suffered through the things I hated  (hospital visits, random counseling appointments at all hours of the day and night, the 24/7 on call, and living in a glass house just to name a few) so I could make it to the things I really enjoy (leading, preaching, teaching, discipleship). As much as I hated most of the responisbilities that came with being a pastor in America, I learned to live with having to deal with the stuff that kills me just so I could get to the stuff that made me feel alive.

There are certain expectations I've placed on myself due to the mentoring of other pastors, books I've read, and college classes I've taken. None of which that I've never felt really fit me. I've always felt like I just didn't quite fit the perceived role of a pastor. Not in a round peg in a square hole kind of way but more of a round peg that's just a bit too big or too small for the round hole.

I've been told to be a "good" pastor I need to pray more, be more evangelistic, be more conservative, be more moderate, be more liberal, preach more salvation messages, preach more life applicable sermons, give more alter calls, think outside the box, focus on what's inside the box, be more concerned for who's not in my church, be more focused on who is there and less on who's not, care about numbers, don't look at the numbers, visit more, give people their space, and just be thankful I get to "work" for the church because there are a lot of people out there that would love to have my job.

How do I ever measure up?

On top of that, the guilt I have lived with for the past 15 years I've been in full time paid church ministry has been at times to much to bear.(It even drove me to see a shrink a few years back)  I am a perfectionist by design. So I place a lot of undue expectations on myself and in turn beat myself up when I don't believe I'm able to measure up to what God expects out of me. I feel guilty when I think I could be praying more, or when I don't actively "share Jesus without fear", or when I would rather kill one of my church members then see them saved.

I also beat myself up when I fail to live up to the expectations of being who others say I should to be. It's not enough that I'm always second guessing myself but I get to serve in a profession where I have 300 bosses each and ever week telling me how I should perform my job. And you can also throw in the occasional know-it-all jerk that has never met me or hardly knows me criticizing me through their computer. As you can see I'm a mess.

At least I was a mess. That all changed the night of March 31st in Mexico City.

After an amazing debriefing session, which several in our group points to as a highlight of the week for them, I went to bed completely drained physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I expected it wouldn't take me long to fall asleep once my head hit the pillow but God had other ideas.

As I laid there reliving the week that was and trying to figure out how I was going to be able to go back home and settle in to the old routine again, I found myself wishing ever week could be like that one. I've been on over 20 mission trips and everyone is the same in the respect that it's on those trips I feel most alive. I feel like like I'm in my element. I feel like this is what God designed me to do.

But I don't have a passion for being on the mission field full time. I have a passion for The Church.

So why doesn't pastoring make me feel alive?

That's the one thought that kept me lying awake till all hours of the morning. Then finally I stopped my whining and complaining about how things were going to be when I got back and shut up long enough for God and I to have the following conversation:

Me: I don't enjoy pastoring. Why do I have to keep doing it?
God: Why do you hate it so much?
Me: Have you not been listening for the past 15 years? I just don't fit the role. It's not me. I can't do it any more. I can't keep faking it.
God: What are you faking?
Me: Everything! I have no more patience for lazy apathetic church-gowers who call themselves Christians. I hate committees. I hate what we've done to the church. I hate the competition. I hate the expectations. I hate the church as a country club mentality and I'm the director. I'm tired of complaints. I'm sick of dead worship services. I'm fed up with feeling like my job on this earth is to cater to people who couldn't give a crap about You.
God: Who said you had to?
Me: You.
God: Did I? Or have you been trying your hardest for the past 15 years to be the pastor everyone else expects you to be? When did you ever stop and ask Me who you were suppose to be? When was the last time, if ever, you sought My approval over that of your minister buddies and church members?
Me: So who am? What do You want me to be?
God: I need you to be My Motivator and My Mobilizer.
Me: What does that even mean?
God: This week has been amazing for you, not because of the work you did but because of the work the others did. And more importantly the work I did in them. You motivated a group of Christians to get off there behinds, leave the comforts of their homes and lives back in NC, and mobilize them to come to a foreign country, eat crappy food, get sick, risk their lives, and in the end they all will say it was the best week of their lives. That's what you were designed to do. That is the kind of pastor I need you to be. I have plenty other men and women who can go on hospital visits, deal with committees, eat at covered dish dinner, organize church bake sales, and give much better alter calls then you. I need you to motivate and mobilize.
Me: (silence - then drift off to sleep)

I woke up the next day a new man. At least an old man with a new perspective, a new calling, and new vision. For the first time in my life my peg fit in the hole..perfectly. I knew what I was designed to be and who I was designed to be that for.

Now the next big question was, "What does that look like?"

** My next (and last) MXC blog reflection will share that vision.

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