What gets your attention more? A story about a point of interest in life, or a story from someone’s life that makes an interesting point? Personal stories get my attention. When a person starts off a conversation with “I was out to sea in a huge storm…” I am about 20 times more likely to perk up and listen than if they start out saying “There are many things you can learn by being at sea in a huge storm.” I’d say up to this point I’ve written what I would call general interest posts here on my blog. I do share personal stories from time to time, but mostly I am writing topically about things that get my attention. The more I read it the more it feels so…analytical, and, well it feels a bit sterile. Its too clean. I like analysis. I especially like to take apart false belief systems using the gospel. I also like applying the gospel to practical matters like raising children and being married. I think I’m pretty good at it, but it doesn’t seem to get much traction with people. By traction I mean pulling people along, hopefully into a better place or better life. Some people always find a handle on what I write and get pulled along, but it doesn’t seem like in general folks are connecting with the message. Good analysis without good handles accomplishes little. The funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve learned much of anything that didn’t come through a story; either mine or someone else’s. I’m feeling like I may be able to accomplish more if I just give you the story as it unfolded and unfolds. Maybe you can come with me and we can figure some stuff out together.
So at the moment I am a wrecked pastor. Do you have a pastor or a church? Some have one or the other; some have both; some have neither. You want to know the really strange thing about becoming a pastor? You don’t really have a pastor any more; at least like most people do. You want to know another weird thing about being a pastor? You can’t read the Bible right any more. It messes with your head. Between those two things alone you could lose your mind. Most of the pastors I know got into it because they had a pastor they admired and/or they loved the Bible. Once you are a pastor every pastor you meet wants to find out “how the church is doing,” and every time you open the Bible you start doing a sermon outline. It sucks. Oh and another thing is you don’t have many people you can say things like “this sucks,” to without thinking you might not want to say that out loud. Stuff piles up in a pastor’s life like papers on a desk. Why do pieces of paper start cluttering your desk? Because at some point you lost the energy to put them away, or you just can’t think of any good place to put them. They don’t fit into any category. You don’t know how you’d label a file folder. This is what it is like being a pastor. I’ve always got things pending that don’t fit anywhere but they are not things I can forget about or shove into a drawer; they’re pieces of lives. A couple divorcing with children. A woman discovering she married a person she doesn’t really know at all. Parents who found out their son is gay. A bounced check in the offering. A man who wants to tell me the fantastic thing God just revealed to him that everyone needs to get on board with. Living clutter. Pieces of love.
It surprised me when I got my first bout with depression. It surprised me so much that it took two years and a bazillion tests and doctor visits before I knew what was wrong with me. What does a pastor do when depression sits down on him? Who preaches the good news to the good newser? And who is going to help clear up the clutter? I don’t know. I’m striving to overcome depression. I think that’s right. My therapist friend tells me its not helpful to say I suffer with depression. I get his point. But I have suffered. I’m not suffering at the moment. You bet I’m not or I wouldn’t be writing this…well I might be, but nowhere as efficiently as I am now. I want to help with my suffering though. My Tina and I agreed years ago to share the bad things in our marriage – the things that gut punched us and hurt the worst – so we could give hope and guidance to other married people. It feels like suffering, when it is offered up brings life, but suffering when it is covered up just rots. If you are a pastor, maybe our story will bring life to you. If you have a pastor, maybe you can get a better understanding of the story they can’t tell you by reading ours – and help bring life to them. I titled this “A Wrecked Pastor” because at my worst that’s what it felt like. LIke a car wreck, I’ve discovered over time that, while there was some considerable damage, the car isn’t totaled. It still runs. Part of getting it on the road again is telling the story to you and for you.
Reading: The Anointing, R.T. Kendall
Listening: Lucifer’s Hammer, Larry Niven
Watching: The Americans, FX
Kellerism Today: We worship that to which we ascribe ultimate value