The Busy Pastor and the Adulterous Wife

A title like that should draw a little bit of interest (although I must say that the site has been taking more than normal hits recently - so thank you to those who have been forwarding my ramblings to others - I am deeply indebted to you)...
However it is influenced by some comments which Peterson makes in "The Contemplative Pastor" where he begins by saying that
'The one piece of mail certain to go unread into my wastebasket is the letter addressed to the "busy pastor." Not that the phrase doesn't describe me at times, but I refuse to give my attention to someone who encourages what is worst in me.'
As a busy pastor just about ALL unsolicited mail goes straight to recycling unless it has something that will REALLY capture my attention... If you are reading this then my title has worked for you in your busy life...
I regularly come down with what a friend describes as harassed priest syndrome, where you arrive late at one meeting only to have to leave it early to be somewhere else... (Indeed I wrote the first draft of this yesterday - then last night I ended up arriving 15 minutes late for a meeting I had already rescheduled because of unrealistic diary management). That is bad enough when it is a committee meeting... but where it is a pastoral encounter we are talking about, it is totally toxic... it erodes the relationship between the pastor and the person they are meeting with, sending them a message that they are so unimportant that they are being squeezed out by other things...
I'm not proud of my busyness - it is often a sign of my disorganisation and rather than the demands placed upon me... And have a suspicion that C.S. Lewis may well have been right in "Mere Christianity" and elsewhere that much busyness can ultimately be attributed to laziness.
It is also a function (and I will return to this again) of the our usurpation of the role of Messiah or the place of God... after all, it is only God who is omnipresent and omnipotent, yet often pastors try to create the impression that they are both.
I have got a lot better at saying no recently... although I often find that I have to say no to the things I would like to do because of the things I feel I have to do...
Being about our heavenly Father's business should not necessarily lead to busy-ness... Indeed, as Peterson suggests:
'the word busy is the synonym not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective "busy" set as a modifier to "pastor" should sound to our ears like "adulterous" to characterise a wife or "embezzling" to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.'
Enough of such blasphemy... I'm going to really try to get to grips with this phenomenon in my own life and ministry, and NOT through the sacrifice of those elements of ministry that I find affirming and inspiring. But if I and other pastors are to do the same then we will need the help and support of each other (I'm in a particularly helpful peer-support group at present) AND those to whom we minister...
Please, brothers and sisters in Christ, do not connive with the fallacy that a busy pastor is a faithful pastor. Call us to account when we are running helter skelter rather than sympathize with us or make jokes about us, but also help us to filter out those things that are not really a good use of our time and energies...
Going back to the analogy Peterson uses between "busy pastor", "adulterous wife" and "embezzling banker", one of the sad things is that because of recent history "banker" needs no negative adjective to make it a comparison that no-one would wish for... The danger is that unless we address "busy-ness", the bald term pastor or minister may be held in the same sense of contempt... Seen as someone who is busy doing nothing of lasting import...
And any pastor seen resorting to websites advertising themselves as "sermon outlines for busy pastors" should be treated with the same opprobrium as one found trawling sites advertising "adulterous wives".

Selah



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