Something strange happens to me once in a while, and it's happening now. I get this strange urge to quit. But I don't know what it is that I want to quit. I love doing what I'm doing: preaching, teaching, caring for people and a community, painting, music, sculpture, writing, blogging. I don't know anything else that I'd rather be doing. Even if I was independently wealthy, I suspect I would continue doing what I'm doing... just maybe better dressed. But it's the "church" thing that gets me. The institution, the structure, the organization. I can't put my finger on it. I want to say, "I quit!
", but still teach, be with the people, care for the community. Nothing tangible would change. No one would notice any difference. But I always feel like something's got to change. What is it? What's going on with me? I know I can't quit the church with all her faults any more than I can quit my body with all its defects. Here's some guesses
(meaning they are possibilities but not necessarily true):
- I don't like the burden of responsibility that I have for the people. I want to care for them but without the official burden of it.
- I don't want to be accountable. I want to do all that I'm doing as a pastor, but I don't to have to explain myself, justify my actions or be answerable to anyone.
- The paycheck has a way of making me feel that there are strings attached, and I want to do what I do without expectations.
- I don't want to slip into being the institution's caretaker. I'm not interested in the perpetuation of an institution or an organization or a religious business.
- Perhaps I'm just sick. Maybe I need a counselor. It could be that the several severe wounds that I've received at the hands of the church and its ministers have left me psychologically, emotionally and spiritually broken to the point where I'm ill-equipped to pastor anyway.
- Maybe I've inflicted so much pain on others as a pastor that God has withdrawn his hand from my ministry and his Spirit from my life. This dreaded thought drifts across my heart sometimes like the shadow of a cloud gliding over the desert floor. This has increased since the major church crises during the last 10 years of my tumultuous ministry. The thought emerges: maybe I was wrong and now I'm paying for it!
The fine art photograph was taken by my friend Mark Hemmings
and is from his mannequin series.