LONELINESS HAS ITS VALUE
I have explored some of the toxic features of the loneliness experienced by pastors, but here I want to acknowledge a positive feature of this loneliness. As pastor, you are swimming against the tide. That is because the True Self implanted by God in each human soul is hidden behind a false self that has emerged in response to the forces of our society and our own inner fears and desires. Your task as a pastor is to assist the congregation to rediscover their true self in a way that releases their energies as a healing force in our universe.
There is a positive strength derived from being part of a noble cause. But like the passage from Hebrews 11:13-14 quoted in the last blog, often you will not see the completion of your efforts. It is because you are captured by the vision of hope, sustained by the God who has called you, that you can continue on your journey even when you do not see visible signs of success.
GREATER THAN YOU ARE
The reason why it is so important to remain in touch with the one who has called you is that there will be many sad, even tragic events in your journey. Yet it is important that you continue the journey. Jesus helped us realize that faithfulness does not guarantee comfort but it is worth the journey.
Why do people come on a regular basis to participate in the liturgy and listen to what you have to say? They may get bored or distracted easily, but there is that sacred moment of expectation as you rise to preach. There has been lots of criticism about sermons over the years. Even Eutychus fell asleep and tumbled from a window when Paul was preaching (Acts 20:9). And yet each week there is that moment when people yearn to hear something that can transform their lives.
If Calvin is right, there is a potential that reaches beyond your own abilities. Between the words leaving your lips and traveling to the ears of the listener, there is room for the movement of the spirit. Most preachers have heard someone recount how a word or phrase in their sermon deeply affected that person. I once had a person break down in tears while recounting how an opening illustration I had used had released a healing moment in that person’s life.
At your best, you are lifting up a vision of how life is much greater than we often acknowledge. You are inviting them to share in a journey that is greater than they are. You are inviting them not to be perfectly at home in their world. You are asking them to taste a sweet loneliness that can release their TRUE SELF and connect them with a profound hope that transcends the moment.
What you are doing is important even when you cannot see the results.