It is as the persons they are that preachers are called to this task, as these specific people with their own characteristics and histories. It is as the persons they are that they have been selected and called. This is what is meant by originality. Pastors are not to adopt a role. They are not to slip into the clothing of biblical characters. That would be the worst kind of comedy. They are not to be Luthers, churchmen, prophets, visionaries, or the like. They are simply to be themselves, and to expound the text as such. Preaching is the responsible word of a person of our own time. Having heard myself, I am called upon to pass on what I have heard. Even as ministers, it matters that these persons be what they are. They must not put on a character or a robe. They do not have to play a role. It is you who have been commissioned, you, just as you are, not as minister, as pastor or theologian, not under any concealment or cover, but you yourself have simply to discharge this commission.The painting is the creation of my friend Tina Newlove.
One of the most difficult things for anybody to be is themselves. Just themselves. It takes a lifetime of hard work and courage to discover who we are and to settle down to be that person. And that's if we are willing. As Carl Jung once wrote: "Live your life or be dragged!" I try to encourage people to be authentically themselves. You might think that this would be a wonderful idea that would attract people, because we assume people love authenticity. We don't. We prefer pretense and masks, not only in ourselves but in others. Authenticity is very ugly and chaotic before it gets beautiful and serene. I know, because I see this in my own life and in the life of our community. The first step, being authentic ourselves, is the first hurtle that most people don't clear. The next hurtle is loving authenticity in others. This is where the rest opt out. This doesn't only apply to the people out there, but to me also, the pastor. I try to be authentically me. When I first made this dangerous decision about 10 years ago, I think this was one thing that contributed to the church split that nearly leveled our church. I wouldn't go back, even for job-security. I read this in Barth years ago that applies: