Study Break, Day 3

I like this life. A lot.

It’s helping me to rethink the role of… uh… roles. My “go-to-guy,” the dictionary, says a role is “the function assumed or the part played by a person or thing in a particular situation.”

My most important roles, when I’m working my normal groove, are: Disciple of Jesus Christ; Husband to my wife, Shauna; Daddy to my three kids—Noah, Glory, and Joel; and Lead Pastor to the Dalhousie Community Church. In that order, though all three are precious to me and important for the kingdom. All three are servant roles. But that last role, the pastoral one, is the function I’ve laid aside for three months. It’s a strange feeling, let me tell you.

I’ve also realized that each role is a mosaic created by smaller components, or mini-roles. My Lead Pastor mosaic has four major parts: Leader. Preacher. Guide. Role model. I’ve tacked a four line mission statement front and centre on my bulletin board in my office at work: Live the life. Preach the word. Cast the vision. Lead the change. Heavy burdens, those. Paul spoke of the daily weight he felt carrying the churches in Asia Minor. I can relate. But on Tuesday morning, I cleaned my office and walked out the door. I won’t have to preach the word to three hundred people each week. I won’t have to cast the vision. I won’t have to lead the change. All I have to do now is “Live the life.” Wow, does that ever feel good.

I found it interesting that the definition of a role includes functions for “things.” One of the reasons pastors burn out, I think, is because folks treat them like things. People do and say things to pastors they wouldn’t dream of saying to anyone else (presumably because we’re supposed to be spiritual enough to take it on the chin and respond with prayers and kisses). We become objects: the talking head on Sunday, the bulls-eye critical darts get lobbed at, the example set for the rest of the sheep. If we’re not careful we’ll accept this objectification and begin acting like things. The distance between a pastor and the real world of living breathing people can become vast and impassable, leaving us lonely and dead inside. “I’m just a person,” I reminded a friend this past year. “Right, I’d forgotten,” she confessed. It’s even scarier when we forget that ourselves.

Pastors hurt, which means pastors can bleed. Pastors breathe, which means they can suffocate. Pastors are not perpetual motion machines, and I’m not sure there are many people out there (except maybe politicians) who’s lives are so linked to people’s conflicting expectations. Imagine a store, let’s say Future Shop, where your job description could be shaped by customers. “You need to do more customer calls.” Ok. “I think you need to sweep the floors.” Righto. “Why aren’t your sales numbers up?” Sigh.

All that to say, it sure feels good to “just” be a disciple, husband, and daddy again. Oh, and a writer. We’ll see where all that goes.