Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Pastor's Temptation

"I thought I could train him as well as Yoda. I was wrong." - Obi Wan Kenobi.

So, what is the Pastor's temptation? No, it's not being deluded into thinking that we are Jedi (although I did take to asking folks at the Seminary when we would be getting our lightsabers whenever I saw someone in a cassock - respectful as always) - it's a tendency to believe that we could do a better job than ___________ whenever we hear about something another Pastor does.

It doesn't matter whether we are right or not - the simple fact that so often this is the idea we have is what is disturbing and wrong. And partially this comes up because if you are a theologian you are trained to do analysis - to observe and pick apart people's actions on the basis of the Word of God. That's what preaching direct Law is - according to the Word of God, this is bad. Period. Or then there is even the giving of advice - putting the Law into practice. You might want to consider doing _________. That can be good and fine too. Hopefully, if you are a pastor you have given good advice, and if you are of the laity you have received good advice from your Pastor.

That is fine. . . the danger comes in when the analysis is done and Ego kicks in. When instead of simply saying, "This should not be done, rather one should do that" - we think, "We'll, I'd never have done it that way. . . ." Even if the thought it completely true. . . why should I be involved in an attempt to elevate myself over another?

Pastors need to learn humility, to break down their ego, to not elevate themselves. That way, when they are bold, it is bluntly clear and obvious that they aren't being bold because they are offended, because they are arrogant, because they are "Lording it over people" (which all too often is just an excuse given when a pastor says that you are wrong - but if you show ego other times, it becomes more believable) - rather, the boldness is when the Word of God is drawn into question.

I'm not adamant about Closed Communion because I'm a control freak. It's in God's Word.
I'm not adamant about the Liturgy because I am awesome. It's about the Word.
I'm not adamant on issues X because you've been rude to me in the past. It's about the Word.

People will try to circumvent the Word we say. If we act with arrogance, they will be able to slough off the Word. If we don't control everything, when we step in and say, "No, this cannot be done that way, it must be done this way instead" - the Word shines forth instead of us.

God grant that I learn to be humble - to be silent where the Word is silent and a clarion call where the Word is clear - to ignore those flippant attacks on me and to be instead quick to defend my neighbor! Lord have mercy!

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