Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feelings on Leaving

I was just packing up stuff from my office. 

I noticed as I was packing that even though I was with this congregation for over a year, I never felt like I was "part."  I never felt an ownership for the congregation.  Maybe "ownership" is the wrong word.  But I never felt like I was their priest.  I always felt like I was just a visitor.

Part of this may have been the way that I came into the situation.  I just presided on Sundays for almost a year.  Then I had the Archdeacon sitting in on the vestry meetings with me for about six months.  All of this lead to the feeling of just being a supply preacher.

Also, having an almost full time job in addition to the church position did not leave me time to really feel like I was their priest.  I was always so tired from the job that the congregation felt like an imposition.  My first priority should have been for the congregation, but after working 40 hours on all kinds of shifts, the only thing I wanted to do on Sunday is sleep.  And since most of my contact with the congregation is on Sunday morning, walking into the situation with disdain for them is NOT a good way to develop a warm bond with them.

I hope that this new congregation will represent a new start.  I will be going into the situation as the priest.  I will not have someone constantly looking over my shoulder.  Hopefully I will be able to be rested enough on Sundays that I will see the congregation as my calling, not as a hindrance to my life.

I pray that I will be a blessing to the people I will be serving and I pray that there is someone out there who can shepherd the people of my current congregation to grow to their full potential.  I pray that they will find someone who will view them with love and not as a stumbling block.  This is my prayer and now I need to let them go and trust that God has something in store for all of us.

1 comment:

Lemuel said...

When I was a seminary student I served a *very* small parish of four rural churches in our denomination. In the one community there was an elderly gentleman (not a member of the church) who was very much respected by everyone. He would visit "my" church from time to time. The first time he did, as he greeted me after the service he said "I hope you enjoy your sojourn among us". I was offended. His comment was not intended to be mean, but it hurt. It said to me that I was just "passing through", a temporary fixture. Three years later I was moved to another parish. As the years rolled on, I learned the wisdom of Dr. M's comment. I was never a part. I was the pastor. I was loved and I loved. But pastors come and pastors go and the congregations (at least in my denomination) know it. I hope your "sojourn" in your new parish is pleasant and long, Ben. I hope you come to know you are loved and to love in return. But in the final analysis, it is only a sojourn. As life is also itself.