When to go to church (or) the Christian Struggle with Perfection

“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” Image

“I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla. “I never saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne.”

“Yes, and well I know it,” admitted Anne mournfully. “But have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never make the same mistake twice.”

“I don’t know as that’s much benefit when you’re always making new ones.”

“Oh, don’t you see, Marilla? There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.”

 

I can still remember having a very “adult” conversation with my parents. It was one in which I must have been about 10, and my parents were telling me that I wasn’t perfect, and that I was going to have to live with myself. My response to this (because I knew no one could be perfect) was “I don’t want to be perfect, I just don’t want to make any mistakes!”

As Christians we have this ongoing struggle with perfection. On the one hand we want to be perfect, on the other part of being Christian (at least for me ) is admitting that we aren’t perfect. It is contending with our brokenness, and giving it up to God to be healed.

However, even though we know this about ourselves, I think that Christians often feel the mistaken need to pro-ject perfection. We want to look or at least seem perfect to everyone else. It’s as if our perfection reflects upon the perfection of God. If we aren’t perfect, then God isn’t perfect. If we don’t have all the answers, then God doesn’t have all the answers.

Instead of pointing towards God’s for answers, we rely upon ourselves or the “church” (i.e. that human conglomeration that we too often see as being the church) to be perfect/have the answers.

 

That’s where pastors mess up too right? Pastors feel that they have to be perfect, and instead of being open about their faith and their brokenness and talking about where they meet, Pastors try to be perfect, hide their mistakes/failings (which often leads to a whole nasty secret double life). Too often pastors skip their own confessions–of both faith and doubt, and then the quagmire’s come

So we are back to the perfection and mistakes. It is important to strive towards perfection, but to also rely on God on the source of all perfection. And even when I think that I know my way to God, it is important not to project that as the only way to God.

Too often, I think that Church is shown as a place for “perfect” people or (worse) people who think they are perfect. Too often Church is seen as the place where all of our answers are provided. After all, church is not the place to give standardized tests–God answers each of us personally and individually….Image

When, in actuality. God is a mystery, the church doesn’t know how everything works (Trinity, anyone? Or how about that Virgin Birth thing?) The church should be the A number 1 place to go when you AREN’T Perfect, it should be THE place to go when you have questions, and it should be the surrenduring of your mistakes and imperfections to God so that God is the one we are relying on to “project the right image” not humanity or the church in itself…..

Image

Someone should do this…..

What is both wonderful and frustrating about being a pastor is that a lot of what is done is unquantifiable. Most of the time I am well aware of the fact that I am a “pastor” not only in the church but also, and perhaps more importantly in the community. What this ultimately means is that as a pastor, you wear a lot of hats–some of them better than others.

Whenever people ask how it is to be a pastor I usually say something along the lines that I’m a Jack-of-All-Trades and as such, I get a lot of enjoyment out of doing many different kinds of things.

However, my job also is “thereotically” to put myself out of a job. In between visiting people I should be training my deacons and elders to visit people, in between preaching I should be teaching others how to testify to the word, in between leading and organizing events I should be training/empowering others to lead and organize events.

On the one hand I love the teaching, on the other hand, I find that no matter how things go it is ultimately the pastor who (right or wrong) gets the praise or the blame. This means that whenever there is a suggestion of “Someone should do xxx” whether xxx is fixing the exhaust fans in the bathroom, creating a Farmer’s Market, improving the worship experience, or advertising the church itself (my church’s current cross to bear), that I automatically feel like “I” am the one who is responsible for all of these things.

I need to do x, y and z to keep the church going, I am responsible, I am human–sometimes I need to step back and remind myself that God is really in charge of things. Sometimes I need to take a day to be not just, pastor, mother and wife and be just a Katy. A simple human who God is making into the best possible version of myself.

In the meantime Someone should work more theologically on developing a better understanding in the congregation and on the street in general of who the pastor is and how that works in relationship with the congregation and the world–who knows maybe that someone might even be me 😉

By the Grace of God….

Very few scriptures talk about how “STRONG” Jesus is, have you ever noticed this? God is oft described as Almighty but that is not really a literal translation of the text:

it is really God of many mounds, because mounds were the places of little-g-gods, and the fact that God rules all the mounds means our God is almighty. Please there is this whole breasts/milk/nourishment implication which we tend to not translate in the slightest (get it, mounds?)

However, although Jesus is touted as powerful, I never see the superhero strength (Jesus is the man, because he is so strong) more often his kindness, care, wisdom and healing are the attributes named. So Christ is presented as powerful and mighty, but not through strength but instead through grace and kindness.

Because what is grace anyway?

     Grace is seeing imperfections and practicing love.

See the imperfections, acknowledge them, and then make a move of love (not anyway, not in spite of)  just because, because Christ made such a move towards us first.

What does this mean in day-to-day life? It means human dignity, it means seeing and acknowledging each other, and it means strength through love

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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