Lectionary blogging: Is this what it means to be blessed?

Here is a sobering post about why pastors leave the ministry. Sobering is probably too tame a word for it.

Why Do So Many Pastors Leave the Ministry?

Scrolling through the comments, I came across this one:

I am looking to quit being a pastor for pretty much all of the reasons listed above. I am also leaving for ongoing conflicts between the senior pastor and myself. (Too much to explain) Our church has been on a steady decline with no end in sight, we have about MAYBE 10 people in the entire church that want to be involved and SERVE. Everyone else screams “feed me” on Sunday morning and goes home for the rest of the week.

The senior pastor is cutting one program after the other and at this point we have no outreach at all and no programs to offer people when they come through our doors. If I wasn’t the pastor, I wouldn’t come to our church either.

Keep in mind – For MANY Pastors they are not only spiritual leaders in the church, but also, plumbers, janitors, carpenters, electricians, snow removal, landscapers, a secretary, counselors, dads, grampas, husbands, musicians… the list goes on. (They should teach those skills for pastors in college because they will need them)

It’s very sad, but I can honestly say that I was closer to God before I became a pastor. I want to go on serving God, but just not as a pastor anymore.

I read these things as I contemplate the words this week of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are you when you are reviled and slandered.

I do not know how the words of Jesus inform the reading of the laments and pains of pastors and ex-pastors. I fear that by setting them next to each other I will be accused of endorsing abuse and turmoil.

I am tempted to take a turn toward Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon as I read the Beattitudes next to these painful stories. Hauerwas and Willimon would teach us to read these declarations of Jesus — which seem so far out of line with our own experience — as a description of the kingdom of heaven that has invaded the kingdom of the world. As such it is a summons to the church to be a people who can read those descriptions of who the blessed (or happy) are without trying to weasel our way out of it or spiritualize it (as John Wesley does) or just tune out.

The challenge of Scripture in the face of its total, hysterical mismatch with our lived experience is to come to understand that we the baptized and bread-munching people of Christ are called to be a people who can read those verses without people very properly and rightly screaming about what hypocrites we all are.

Is it a sign of how far the church has to go in this that so many of the shepherds of the flock have been mauled by the sheep?



2 thoughts on “Lectionary blogging: Is this what it means to be blessed?

  1. A great question: Is it a sign of how far the church has to go in this that so many of the shepherds of the flock have been mauled by the sheep? My first thought, probably. But I’ll have to contemplate it for some time.

  2. As a pastor, all you ever hear is the object “We’re saved by faith alone.” Rebuke a sin: “We’re saved by faith alone.” Ask anyone to get involved: “We’re saved by faith alone.” Well, if everything is just faith alone, go home and have your faith to yourself. Why even bother going to church? The Devil has won a great victory with his 400 years of Calvinist brainwashing.

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