I find myself in a time that is very difficult to think or write about anything uplifting and pleasant. For me depression is not common so this foreign feeling is not easily understood. There are a number of contributing factors for this season. I could write volumes about experiences of deceit by those that should have been trusted allies. These things have caused me to want to adopt a “trust nobody” attitude. How can one easily describe the feeling of rejection by others?
I am acquainted with loud mouths that sound off about separation of church and state without a clue what that really means. I feel pain of being judged and rejected. There is a perception that only the religious are judgmental. It’s a fact that most people are judgmental about others based on personal opinion. If I write a very biblically grounded, logical, rational, peaceful article about why being a transsexual goes against the argument of natural sexual tendencies it would be viewed as gay bashing. If I write about the corruption that is infused in our Unions I risk being perceived as a trouble maker in the workplace. Being honest about my desire to transition to full time ministry work is the likely catalyst that caused me to be laid off from my last job and now am working in an abusive and immoral work environment. And yet there are ignorant and self-centered individuals that consider Christians to be hateful. Can you see the contradiction?
The calling, desire, and vision that was placed in me many years ago as a pastor has not been fully realized. I wonder how long it will be before I can transition out of my trade. I am not able to leave the workforce for vocational ministry due to a number of factors. Real estate values are still very low making it not likely that my house will sell (we tried for almost a year). Finding a church to pastor is considerably more complex than just submitting a resume and saying I love Jesus. Despite the perception of most of our population, very few ministers make wages above poverty level and their income is taxable. A full time pastor works upward of seventy hours a week. Think about that the next time you think a pastor gets paid just to preach on Sunday!
While trying to find comfort in this time I read Psalm 25.
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me.
3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.
4 Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.
5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.
8 Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
9 The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
12 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses!
18 Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins.
19 Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred.
20 Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.
22 Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles!
My enemies attack more from inside me than from out. They are my thoughts that lead to action or inaction. That is to say sometimes my actions are improperly motivated and occasionally I do nothing out of personal bias. My greatest enemy is rooted in pride. Because of pride it is difficult to let go of past hurts. Inequity is a common occurrence in life and every person deals with inequity in their own way. Some people are passive and able to move quickly beyond an injustice. Others are overly zealous about their beliefs and create extended conflict over any infraction of their desires.
Being a passionate man is often viewed as passive. That is not at all the case for me. The weak side of passion is not passivity rather it is anger. For every strength there is a weakness, focus on the weakness and the strength is lost. Most often when I feel threatened my impulse is to stand and fight. I do not have a strong flight instinct. This is a great attribute in a crisis situation that requires immediate action but not so much in a disagreement of ideas. My self-enemies, anger, insecurity, pride, guilt, are ones that have to be conquered on a regular basis lest it triumph over me. The fight is to make it submit and become properly directed passion. Many would like to believe that those of us called to Christian leadership are somehow not allowed to express negative feelings in the form of frustration. We are not bullet proof! Being called to ministry is not a call to be some soft spoken doormat either.
I am, like you, a sinful individual. I have past transgressions that have been forgiven and yet still try to haunt me in the form of guilt. Sometimes my old self gets the upper hand in a moment. When that happens God allows forgiveness for the sin, but there may still be consequences for my actions. Being forgiven is not a license for immorality, it’s a call to become more like Christ. My prayer continues to be “let not my enemies triumph over me.”
Rev. Burt Schwab