...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beyond Church Disillusionment

One thing is for sure, this 2008 race has tons of people fired up and in the process already. The more idealistic you are, the more you are likely to get hurt or at least disappointed. Of course, idealism works- people want to think the best of their candidate.

With churches, the same is true. People are pretty idealistic when joining a faith community. They are thinking the best of their new church home, hoping and believing that it will work for them. If the church doesn't somehow measure up to their expectations, expectations usually formed by the church's own self-presentation, then it is easy to become disillusioned, a disillusionment, by the way, often experienced by new clergy who realize that a community of faith is not all it was cracked up (read: presented) to be.

There is a line in the Serenity Prayer that comes to mind: "...that I may be reasonably happy in this life..." Balancing our expectations with reality is the way of wisdom, and the art of becoming happy within reason is perhaps what St. Paul meant: "I have learned to be content in all things."

It is easy to enjoy the excitement of this political season, and the hope it raises. The joy in finding a new church or going to a new pastoral assignment is also wonderful, a gift and a vessel of God's grace. Hopefully, our political hopes and the grace of the new can and will draw us closer to the One that we cannot do without- and the One beyond our wildest dreams.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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