Monday, May 09, 2016

Pastor, and

Most pastors aren't just pastors.

In addition to their primary vocation of serving with a church in ministry, many pastors tend to take on additional roles that help round out their sense of calling.

Some pastors are also speakers. Or authors. Or workshop leaders. Or spiritual directors. Or professors in higher education. Or leaders on denominational boards. Or chaplains. Or advocates in justice or charity organizations. Or professional musicians.

And that's just to start.

Pastors serve in these additional ways for a variety of reasons. They may love local church ministry, but also find that they have gifts to be used in other ways, or more fully, outside of that role. They may feel called to more than one vocation (as really, most are) and seek not only to integrate them but also fulfill each in unique ways. Some need to take on other work because they're in a pastorate that can't pay them enough, even though they still consider it their primary calling. And, cynically, some seem to use pastoral ministry as a sort of "homebase" for one or more of these other roles to which they give a preferred amount of time and energy.

To be sure, the world needs these other roles, as does the wider church. They serve as a complement to what one does in the local church, even lending additional insight to what we do the majority of the week. We become ambassadors of both our local church and the Church Universal as we reach out to something bigger, be it the community or denomination.

Being a pastor is an incredibly involved profession on its own. I celebrate those who devote their talents to it alone due to its great physical, emotional, and spiritual demands. For some, it is enough.

For others, we can't not answer the call beyond this single role. We must write. We must speak out. We must teach. We must sing or play or paint or dance. As much as this additional work benefits others, it also feeds us, satisfying an itch to do more according to our passion and gifts.

And let us not forget other vocations entirely: those that are in our homes rather than out in the world. We may be pastors and writers, pastors and professors, pastors and administrators...but we also may be pastors and spouses, pastors and partners, pastors and parents, pastors and caregivers, pastors and siblings, pastors and friends. We are called to personal relationships as much as to those we know in our professional and volunteer roles. Our time, energy, and attention is needed close to our hearts as much as out in the world. Our souls and those of others are in need of feeding in ways other than our public functions.

I've been on my own rollercoaster ride being a "pastor, and." At first, I was a pastor and husband, then a pastor, husband, and father. These three roles alone filled my days and, to my shame, I haven't always had them in the right balance to each other. Along the way, I've also been pastor and spiritual director, pastor and blogger, and pastor and denominational leader.

Nowadays, I am pastor and husband, father, spiritual director, writer, Committee on Ministry chair, and lay ministry instructor. It is enough. Actually, I've been discerning lately whether it's too many. I'm always thinking about how much time I'm giving to each, and which must decrease so that others may be given the attention they deserve. A few of them are irrevocably intertwined and enjoy primary consideration, while others go on and off the shelf as appropriate.

Making time to be a pastor is in itself a challenge. But to be a "pastor, and" demands much more. Are we being faithful with what we've been entrusted? Do we have our ratios of time and energy in the proper balance? Are we giving too much of ourselves to our additional work at the expense of our congregation; to our congregation at the expense of our loved ones? Have we taken on more callings than a particular life season can bear? Where for us is that sweet spot where everything is in its rightful place?

Most are called to be "pastor, and." People besides those in our congregation need us to share who we are and what we can do.

But we must share well.