Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I'm trying to be an egg

I've been inspired lately by the idea that, as pastors we are undergoing a constant metamorphosis. One of the most difficult things about being a successful pastor is dealing effectively with rejection. The "Tuesday mail" from people in the congregation telling you how quixotic the sermon was on Sunday. The "Dear John" letters saying, we are leaving the church but it isn't you it's me. The list reads like a grocery list of reasons why pastors seriously contemplate quitting every Monday.

Someone recently wrote about the fact that these "beatings" that pastors constantly undergo, serve to undermine their effectiveness because many of them become jaded about ministry and it manifests itself in anger, bitterness and resentment. In fact, it may surprise you to know that the stats suggest that as many as 70% of pastors hate their jobs (for the record I don't fit into that category), and that for every one pastor that comes into ministry, five quit. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that we're on a slippery slope if we continue at that rate.

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking to another pastor friend of mine who had just gone through a most debilitating season. People in the church were accusing him and his wife of the most outlandish and ludicrous things, simply because they had a philosophical difference in their approach to an issue. This precipitated an exodus from the church as misinformation was spread. Another pastor friend found himself at the receiving end of people withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of support which they had committed to the ministry because they didn't agree with his stand on prophecy and prayer. Every week presents new opportunities for rejection, so how do we deal with it all and still remain committed.

I call it the egg theory. An egg is hardshelled on the outside so that it can protect the soft nutritious content on the inside. As pastors our greatest gift is what is inside of us. Whether that be a teaching gift, leadership, being visionary, being inspiring and motivational, being a tremendous source of healing and comfort to the hurting; whatever the gift may be, we must learn to protect it with a hard exterior. What I mean by this is simply that we must learn to develop "thick skin" while maintaining a soft and maleable heart. If we allow the pain of rejection to calcify our hearts, then we lose the ability to be sensitive to God and to the needs of the people we are called to serve. We effectively lose the greatest gift we have to give. Have you ever noticed how an egg that is cracked even slightly never seems to boil without leaking all the good stuff out? That's what happens to us when we allow offenses and rejection to "crack" the veneer of our exterior shell.

How do we keep that from happening? Glad you asked. Prayer and a constant revisiting of your calling and purpose are the only ways you can stay healthy and focused after each "battle" with hurt and rejection. So as for me, I'm trying to be an egg!!!


Hope Clark said...

I love this. It's such a great concept for life... not just leadership. Because there are people every day who can offend you, betray you, and frustrate you. Whether you are a Pastor, a businessman or home-maker... I think God looks at us every time we are slapped on the face and intently askes, "Will you be the bigger person? Will you stay soft? Will you still love?"