I like what I do–most of the time.
I like (and appreciate) the time that I have to think, pray, and spend time trying to understand the things of God. That means spending time in Scripture as well as time with various books where I can drink in what others have learned. These books may have been published last year or a hundred years ago. Part of what I do is to try to understand what God has called us to be and what he is doing with his people.
I like the time that I spend with people. People talk with me about their lives–their marriages, their children, their jobs. I’ve spent time with people talking about their hurts and disappointments. These may be one to one conversations or conversations over the telephone. At times the conversation has begun via letter or e-mail.
So often the questions are (whether or not they are ever expressed), "How do I connect God with who I am or what is happening in my life? How do I make sense of this? How do I respond to this situation given who I am, as a child of God?"
The foundation for such conversations is trust. When a minister first comes to a church, the big question in the minds of the people in that church is, "Can I trust this person?" At a very basic level, this has something to do with who this minister is when no one is looking. ‘Who is this person behind closed doors?"
This also includes the willingness to listen to someone and not repeat the information to anyone else. Many of us know what it is like to tell an acquaintance something over lunch only to have it come back through another person by the next Wednesday evening. Do you know what it is like to have to carefully measure your words because the person with whom you are talking doesn’t keep confidences? It is a great compliment when someone talks with you openly because they trust you.
I like the focus of my work. It is not on me but on God. I didn’t do this well–at all–during the first years of my ministry. I don’t think I even understood it. I thought that if I did my work right then I would be liked. I could not understand why someone always seemed to be upset or disapprove. Consequently, I was forever disappointed and hurt. The problem was that my whole focus was wrong. I was too self-conscious and not God-conscious.
If you are a minister in most any church the following probably holds true:
Some people will like you–a lot!
Some people will like you–but that could change if they disapprove of what you do or say.
Some people will be "ok" with you. They are caught up in their own lives and their expectations of you may not be very high.
Some people will not like you–at all.
That should not surprise us! A church leader once told me when I was new at a particular church, "I haven’t heard anyone say anything bad about you." I remember thinking, "Just wait." It doesn’t work that way.
How sad when ministers (or anyone else) get overly focused on themselves. They may use others to bolster their sagging egos. Their insecurities get in the way of a God focused life. They call more attention to themselves than God. Yet, how freeing it is (whether you are a minister or not) to come to a place in life where you can drink deeply of what God offers instead of forever staring in the mirror at your own wounds.
Now there is a future in that kind of life!