Sunday, August 25, 2013

Allegory, Ministry, and Triple A Reno

I realize that as a pastor I see allegory everywhere.  Last Month, the AZ Diamondbacks sent ther overpaid set-up man David Hernandez to Triple A Reno.  It was overdue.  He's been terrible all season.  This guy will make $1.25 million this year, and what he expected to happen, what manager Gibby expected to happen, and what GM K. Towers expected to happen, didn't happen.  Can we trade him like he did Ian Kennedy?  No?  You mean no one would take him?  Maybe he should look into a career change.  Kirk Gibson describes the move; "He's struggled," said Gibson. "We're going to get him down in a different environment. ... the game's just kind of been cruel to him."  This must be a huge dissapointment for Hernandez.  I bet he cried like a baby.  So what happens next?  Well Hernandez is a big league pitcher.  This guy is most likely going to come back, maybe even this season, maybe even for the D-Backs.  This is what most analysts suspect.  They're hoping that time in Reno will not so much  improve his skills, but help him get his confidence back.  Reno is a place for him to get a clear head, to become mentally focused and to get back in the game.

Pastors have no Triple A Reno.  When they have a terrible season, there are no good places to go.  I'm not talking about the bad guys.  I'm talking about guys with good skill sets, proven seasons of ministry, and a genuine pastoral calling.  Guys who had a season where ministry was kind of cruel to them.  Too many of these guys are selling Nabisco cookies, enrolling for online universities, teaching community college classes, selling insurance, working for the VA, delivering pizzas, or running mortuaries and funeral homes.  Most of them are NOT making $1.25 million this year.  And some of them feel finished.  They've lost their confidence. And they've cried like a baby.  I'm one of these guys, and I keep meeting more guys like us.  I am hearing these other guys' stories and it makes me thankful that my wife has stayed, and that I haven't been diagnosed as clinically depressed.  It makes me thankful that I jumped out of the game when I did.

As a recovering church planter I wrestle with the label, calling, position, and office we call "pastor".  I struggle with identity and am unsure of what tribes to identify with.  I believe in the priesthood of all believers.  I am passionate about qualified individuals doing genuine ministry in the marketplace.  I have an over whelming sense of purpose that I am here in Phoenix to see and be apart of new churches being planted and to help those who ae outside of local faith communities to identify with others that will stir them up and gently nudge them towards faith and good works.  I am still doing these things.

None of this has happened the way I expected it to.  Sometimes I feel like I failed; like what happened and didn't happen are somehow my fault.  Assigning blame is difficult.  Furthermore, it seems futile and not helpful.  I was obedient to go.  Others were obedient to send me.  Others were obedient to help us.  Things just didn't work out the way we expected.  I at least feel like I'm in good company.  There have been way more qualified church planters with better funding and seriously more intense training and planning than I had,  who had no greater succeses than I did. Sometimes I just wish there was a Triple A Reno.  A place I could go and kill it for a season, so I could get a clear head to do what I am uniquely qualified and gifted to do;  maybe not even to improve my skills, but at least to get my confidence back.

Today I sat in a meeting with four other ministers, only one of us is a "vocational" pastor.  We strategized and
and planned, and began to build a stucture, so that we can do relational ministry together in a manner that will be a huge blessing to a unique group of local students.  I am really excited about these possibilities.  Perhaps this is what it fees like to be in Triple A Reno.