…or am I?

I wrote this post a little under a year ago. It was angry and defiant. It was self assured. It was maybe a little arrogant. Sure, it looks contrite on the surface. I’m good at that. It looks like I’m serving my time with humility. I’m taking my lumps. I get knocked down, but I get up again! (you’re welcome for the ear worm!) It’s strong. It’s resolute…

…it’s missing the point. Almost a year removed from this post, I wonder how much “better” I am. Have I learned my lesson? Am I able to avoid the pitfalls that ended my ministry in the first place? I don’t know that I’m better. In some ways, I feel worse.

I was reminded in a very stern way a few weeks back that being a pastor is a privilege. My “call” or my sense of it does not entitle me to the work. It does not entitle me to lead a congregation. It does not entitle me to any of the rights and privileges that come along with being in this incredibly unique profession.

And so I’m left sitting with the question… am I still a pastor?

I’ve been taking Lent to do some much needed self affirmation. It has been good for me. I can affirm today that I have pastoral gifts. I’m an excellent speaker and communicator. I am a good listener. I connect with people easily. I’m good at operating in complex systems. I love people, even though they drain me. I want to see good done in the world. Those are super qualities in a pastor. I’m also wildly insecure. Because I’m a good communicator and compassionate, I can be manipulative. My ego needs fed regularly. I sometimes have used the pulpit as my therapist. I can just as easily be a curse to a congregation as a cure.

I had my chance to be a pastor. Chances, actually, and I blew them. I blew it once because I felt I was above having to do two jobs. I blew it a second time for not seeing my task through to the end. I blew it a third time by not taking myself out of the role when I was clearly in no position to serve. My ego. My image. My pride. All of them came before the people I was supposedly serving.

There are other ways that I can use my gifts. I like to write. I’m enjoying life as a community organizer. It seems like a good fit for my skills and it’s a way that I can still help churches without leading them. I was in the state capitol last night. I thought about lobbying. I thought about how my current work could easily parlay into political advocacy. I could be a consultant. That seems to be what people do when they can’t do the thing they want to do.

I’ve had a lot of hard conversations lately and I’m taking them to heart. I’m not giving up on my call. I am rethinking how I might live it out. Being a pastor is a privilege, one that I abused. I can’t live that down. I can’t escape it. Having a call doesn’t give me the right to be toxic in a place again. Maybe I can’t handle my call right now.

Of course, this all leads me back to the drawing board. Who am I?

One thought on “…or am I?

  1. I think you are who are called to be: a person looking to be transformed, to live into redemption, to learn from your mistakes. A dad, a community builder and still a pastor (maybe not in traditional ordained, parish sense but one who nurtures faith in others and cares for the least of these, shines Christ’s light and guides people in the ways of Jesus all the same) as well as a child of God and beloved, messed up human being. You are Derrick Weston. Messy, Messed up, magnificent marvelous, fearfully and wonderfully made.

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