The church is a big melting pot of all kinds of beans. And they all have opinions-a-plenty. Some are serious concerns and some are not-so serious or even remotely relevant. But like all stinky, sinner bean-humans that make up the church (pastors and there wives included), we feel the need to be heard. That’s not a bad desire, except when it is.
When my husband began sensing the call to ministry he mentioned it to my uncle who is a seasoned Pastor. After expressing his desire he expected a hearty smack on the back and a “welcome to the family!” mobster-style welcoming. But instead he received a solemn look followed by some sharp words… “If there is anything else at all you can see yourself doing, do that instead.”
It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.
My husband walked away from that conversation with his head spinning and not knowing whether to be horribly discouraged or grateful for the warning.
I remember when I worked as a receptionist for our old church, my lead pastor asked me to find and then order him a large framed picture of monstrous waves hitting a light house. When I asked him why he wanted a piece of art like that, he told me it was a morbid reminder of what ministry life feels like.
Turns out my uncle was right and my old pastors reflections are true to form. Pastoral work is not for the faint of heart and it is not just some vocation you pass out resume’s too willy-nilly. Calling will be the only thing that will make you stick and even then sometimes that’s not enough. However it’s not a holier-then-thou calling because as ministry folk we realize pretty quick that we are just not good enough to do the work of God.
But if you are truly called, you can’t run from it and it nags you relentlessly.
Along with the nagging came the affirmation of respected others and so we began our journey in ministry. And it has been filled with all of the above…highs, lows, and everything in between.
In our ministry path we have met every kind of person; the woman who is always sniffing for legalism and words like doctrine and theology make you suspect in her eyes. The man who automatically labels you an anti-intellectual if you don’t spend your life in school getting a Masters in Divinity and a Doctorate in Christian culture. The young adult who pegs you as a dead Christian unless you are handing out sandwiches to the poor every weekend and debating issues involving social justice. There is the middle-aged woman who has served in every single ministry the church offers and is always talking about blessing, anointing and the joy of the Lord.
And then there is the guy who has all-together checked out and is hanging on by a long thread because someone has “burned” him in the church and his favorite thing to do is throw rocks at everything the bride does. He hates that the church is too “institutional” and not “led by the Spirit.” And he would prefer to have church at home with close friends or on a message board after listening to a worship song.
The church is so often facing wars of many sorts (outside and inside its own walls) and all of it can overwhelm, confuse and frustrate so many lay people and pastors alike.
However with all of its flaws it is still Christ’s bride and plan A for the salvation of the world and the sanctification of His saints. It is of infinite importance to the culture around us and it should be fought for. Sure, it’s clear that she is far from perfect. But God loves her. Which means I should too; whole-heartedly, and not just because I have to.
Like a pot full of beans rubbing up against each other, getting in each others personal space and creating awkward encounters, the church is a mess. And sometimes it feels like a gigantic frothy wave smashing up against you. But it is worth the fight to stay strong, rely on God and keep moving forward. Working faithfully to glorify Him in all we do.
The church is worth it and working in ministry is a privilege. And I pray that my family will remain steadfast to the call placed on us.