I have a friend who is a full-time pastor, associate actually but probably does more than his Sr. pastor, he’s good! But I think he should quit his job and get out of ministry. Let me tell you why.
Another guy I know, he’s a priest at a local parish and is experiencing what a lot of us “professional Christians” experience, the inability to really dig in and share life with people. We were talking about his community group and he isn’t sure he can do the small group thing because there is an expectation that he would have the answers. There is also probably a bit of a compulsion to give the “right” answer if the wrong ones are being tossed about. This isn’t uncommon, i’ve felt it and so have many of my friends who are pastors and preachers.
Now maybe you could still get a pay check form the church. Wear the collar and park in the clergy space at the hospital (there are some perks we don’t want to give up right!) But maybe we need to quit doing ministry and just start doing life people. Live in a way that should be standard for all Christians not just those that get paid for ministry. Maybe we should only do things as professional ministers that we would also do as professional bike messengers or professional lawyers or you fill in the blank. If you wouldn’t do it when you weren’t getting paid, don’t do it JUST because you are.
Maybe this is idealistic. Maybe there are things that are apart of any job as professional that you’d hate but can’t help, things you have to do. Does anybody love every aspect of their occupation? If so, teach me your ways. So i’m not saying this is some hard and fast rule but what I am trying to get at is what I see in my friend and if I were honest, it’s what i see in myself all to often. I can be a horrible friend, a really crappy neighbor but when it’s my job or when i’m “ministering” i’m all over it. If you’re going to be a crap friend to your friends don’t act like your a good friend to the people you’re getting “paid” to be a friends to.
The goal in quitting ministry is to have the ability to actually live life with people and let ministry happen as it should for all of us, no matter how we get paid. You might even still get a check from the church and preach a message on Sundays. If we can find ways to shift our professional mentality I really think that our status as simply authentic human beings, people who has quit ministry will begin to shape how we actually share life with people. It will shape the conversations we have, the dinners we go to, the beers we drink and the games we attend. All these things and more might all be a bit more natural as they flow from life instead of being contrived via a job.
“So what do you do?”
“Oh, i’m i just a dude. I happen to work at a church though.”
So, do you get paid by a church? How have you felt this dilemma? Or have you?
I think an interesting part of this conversation could be to flesh out a theology of the priesthood of believes and how the professional priest fits into this community of priests that we all are called to belong to. I’m sure there are some good resources on this, any suggestions?