This past week, I was on retreat with other pastors from three area presbyteries. It was such a meaningful time - being in a comfortable space where we could open up about our struggles and dreams about ministry. We could be honest and authentic to who we are, which we often feel we cannot do within our own ministry contexts. I believe that being authentic and honest about ourselves is so important, especially as pastors.
I've been at my church for eight months now, which hasn't been the smoothest time in my life. I've suffered from strange fatigue and heart issues, leading to a diagnosis of celiac disease & iron deficiency. I had a rather interesting introduction to my presbytery, by way of a tough (some might say unfair) examination on the floor - complete with shouting & yelling while I was out of the room. My church is facing an uncertain future in the midst of a tough economy. There was pressure to be a status quo pastor & preacher - try not to rock the boat too much during the first year. But, situations came up where that just became impossible. It's not an ideal situation for a first call pastor, but I love my people. That is bottom line for me. I am not going to bail on them.
And, through all of this, I've discovered myself in new ways. I feel so much more confident in the pulpit, by just listening to my gut and being authentic with my preaching. It has made a world of difference for me and, I hope, for my congregation. I've decided not to let the opinions of a few drown out the rest of the conversation. I am trying to be honest and authentic in all that I do now, because I have nothing to lose. I am going to be myself and I think that is where people connect the most. They want authenticity, honesty, and passion in their pastors.
I want to live with no regrets. So, coming home from a "mountain top" experience, I am committing to being me. Just me.