Let Go: What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
I think this was a formational year for me in letting go of ideas of parish ministry and learning more about what it is really like. Letting go of any desire to be the "ruler" of the church -- a desire that I barely knew existed, but which reared its ugly head at times when my own defenses against it were down.
I grew up watching my father be a truly beloved pastor -- until I was in seminary, I didn't even know that there was conflict in churches! Are you kidding me, everybody seemed to worship my dad and by default, our family!
Learning about the real nitty-gritty of ministry has been a process for me, one that I am feeling my way through every day. I came to my call with a desire to serve, not run, the church, but sometimes I need to be more hands-on than hands-off. I came to the call with a desire to listen to the people, but sometimes I'm still disappointed when they don't confide in me about things I learn through other parishioners. I'm learning that the church is the members--the way they support one another, the way they guide and strengthen one another. The church is NOT me...I knew this intellectually before, but I am putting it into practice, and that has involved letting go of some ego needs, letting go of some presumptions, letting go of some desires to come first in the minds of my parishioners.
It sounds so arrogant and haughty even to write about it here, but it is something I'm willing to confess. As humble as I thought I was, sometimes I even used my humility arrogantly, if that makes any sense. Ministering in a rural setting, with folks who have known each other before I was a twinkle in my parents' eye (which is true in most churches, certainly not unique to my situation), has been what has truly humbled me and what continues to teach me what true service in ministry is all about.