Monthly Archives: October 2012

Being a Christian Public Leader in a World of Ugliness.

Recently I came across a blog post about a young pastor who recently experienced something one of those really ugly moments in ministry. Here post can be checked out here. For some reason, I felt compelled to respond…and at length. I included my response below. For some reason, her post both resonates and worries me about those who are leading in minstry as pastors, youth directors, etc. Two things: One, I hope my response is taken for what it is and two, that she and everyone else that reads this, doesn’t kill me. : )

First off, thanks for sharing this story. I can’t imagine what being diminished like that feels like, from a woman’s perspective.

However, I do know what it means to be diminished in that way. I spent over a decade (my college +8-plus years working) in an organization where it was routine to be treated like that. Here’s a story from that: I had been awake for about 48 straight hours conducting engineering testing. I had a little down time, and went to relax a bit, maybe take a 10 minute catnap. When I got there, one of my supervisors basically asked me to go do some mundane task he could have done, mainly because he could make me do it. When I refused, he called me every name in the book – lazy, stupid, worthless, (some racial slurs and swearing included).

And I felt much the same way you felt. And I responded by picking up a nearby manual book, and promptly hurling it at his head.

Thankfully I missed. But you know what? I think about how you reacted, and you as pastor, I think reacted the best possible way. One question you wrote stood out to me: “How could I be let loose to lead in a world that mocks me?”

Now that I am in seminary, and am close to ordination myself, I hold on to this notion that people like the one who marginalized you exist. It’s a simple fact. But I hope you’ve realized that you were let loose to lead in a world that mocks you precisely because you chose to follow Christ & serve his people and his church. I hope you realize the way you responded, while not helping you get back any power, was actually more powerful, because it was an expression of the gospel you proclaim in your work as a pastor.

Yes…you are a woman, and such a thing probably won’t happen to me as a man. But they have happened to me as an Asian. As a kid who grew up on a farm. As a moderately conservative person. Heck, moments like that have happened to me for no reason, other than people simply have an ugly side, or they’re simply ugly and hateful.

But that’s what we are called to lead in. It’s what we chose – not to deserve the ugliness you experienced – but rather because you so want to proclaim God’s “grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I think of all the people – men and women – who were marginalized, subjected to hate and violence for no obvious reason than who they were. But they stayed people of faith & integrity, because they believed what God had called them to was the right thing to do, and found strength and confidence in that.

I know I do….and I hope you do so too.

(Sorry this is so long….but I’ve heard this vein from so many people heading into ministry – and it’s tragic to me that they’re so consumed by things like this…..because I’ve learned so far in life, they and the people who do them, never go away)

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Where to go….but a pause along the way.

Well, I realize it has been a LONG time since I posted anything on here. Life has gotten busy all of a sudden for me – I got married this past summer, and things have ramped up this fall with finishing my last year of seminary and internship, praying and discerning where I might be assigned to for my first call as a pastor, gearing up for another year of coaching college wrestling, and of course, adjusting to and being intentional about life with my new wife, and making time for family.

It’s all got me thinking about how I’ll pull this all off, and if things will turn out ok. And I know for those of you who take time to read my blog, I suspect the same is true for you in some way. Speaking of my blog, I’m trying to decide where to go with it. I have some inklings, but as mentioned above, time hasn’t been great about letting me focus in on that. However, as you reflect and wonder where your life is taking you, where God is calling you and wrestling with those notions, here’s a thought, a pause along the way.

“Thank you” and “I’m gonna be alright.”

I got to hear former bishop of the ELCA (the first one!) Herb Chilstrom speak at my internship congregation a few weeks ago. He shared a story about his brother, who was born with mental disabilities, and who worked in a turkey packing plant for 25 years and then as a janitor in a nursing home. Quoting his story from memory, “Now I could’ve walked into that nursing home and introduced myself as Bishop of the ELCA. I could’ve said I was the president, and those people wouldn’t have given me a second glance. But if I told them I was Dave’s brother…than I was somebody. My brother had that kind of impact.”

At the end of his brother’s life, Bishop Chilstrom recalled two moments with his brother. One, in which he asked Dave to pray, and the prayer was thanking God for every little thing, ending it with “And thank you God, for everything. Amen.” The other moment was with death impending, Dave’s last words to a concerned brother was, “I’ll be alright. I’ll be alright.”

“Thank you” and “I’ll be alright.” My prayer for you (and really, a prayer for me) is that in all the things around you, you’re able to see them for the blessing from God they are, and simply give thanks. In that thanksgiving, may you know God’s presence and grace and in that, may it give you peace.

“Thanks be to God,” and for what God’s done, “I’ll be alright.”

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