One of my goals or new commitments for 2015 is becoming more vocal in public settings. I want to stop hiding. I need to allow myself to speak, even if I run the risk of seeming self-serving. So much of what it means to be a pastor doesn’t seem selfless. It seems like we are supposed to play the role, and, of course, the role is different in each setting, but mostly it means we are to be clothed with the latest worship style and church model that is sweeping Christendom. And there are plenty of good pastors filling these roles. So why does the world need another voice added to the noise? God knows the traffic is thick around the social media megaphone, and I’ve always been the one to say, “Go ahead. Step right up. I’ll let you take my place. Speak. Here’s the megaphone. Take my turn.” Then I take my seat somewhere near the back of the pack.
I’m not so sure being silent is better than being bold. People will always judge your motives. I’m realizing that maybe this is what scares me more than being bold and being heard. I don’t want people to judge my motives, because somewhere deep inside I realize my motives are never pure. I long to be selfless, I long to be the servant of all, I want to be loved. But hiding and staying silent only intensifies my loneliness. This is where my misery lies—to speak and be judged or to remain silent and lonely.
Maybe I should have been a monk and taken a vow of silence, but I chose the opposite. And to be completely honest, I don’t like being called a pastor or preacher or minister or the Righteous Reverend, because, once again, I don’t want anyone judging my motives. But people do. They think I’m for this and against that—without even asking me what I think. Rarely am I allowed to remain neutral. But, again, I’m not sure if being neutral is better than taking sides.
So I posted a video on our church’s Facebook page today. I said a few things about leadership, but mostly I was trying to live up to my new commitment of being heard as the church’s pastor, even if this video goes unheard and is misunderstood.
I’m not out for me, but I am. I can say I’m a mouthpiece for God, and that’s always been the problem with the gospel. Most of the time it’s forced through a smokescreen of human ambition.
If there were only a better way, if there were only a better way.
I guess the apostle Paul summed it up best when he said, “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21). I guess I’ve been shooting for that perfect moment when evil isn’t right there with me. Then I could speak, then I’d have something holy to say. But I’m realizing that this moment will never happen.
The miracle of all miracles is how the gospel has survived to this point in human history. Every generation has marred the message in some way. Now it’s our turn. And I wish there was another way around it. I wish for once that we’d get it right without the evil of selfish-ambition. But to wish for this only takes me right back to where I started. It demands silence, but silence doesn’t bring the righteousness of God in all cases. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes we should just shut up. But we should never decide the gospel would be better without our voice.
Frederick Buechner writes, “Part of what it means to be a slob is to hang on for dear life to our slobbery” (Beyond Words, Day 125). Now add the message of the gospel to this struggle of slobbery and you have yourself a pastor.
By the way, I am one.