2. What do you love most and find most challenging in your vocation as a pastor?
Well. I love just about everything there is about worship. I love creating worship services, I love crafting sermons, I love presiding and praying with the congregation. I love singing my heart out. I love the sacraments... more than I can say, more even than I know, I think. I love the way they take you by surprise: the baby squeezes your finger, or an elder looks into your eyes in the most poignant way when he takes communion from your hand.
I think worship is a relationship. I love the way in which I am related to everyone in a worship service, whether I am presiding or not. I love that worship informs our relationships across the table at a session meeting or a potluck, or when we pack Thanksgiving baskets for families in our community for whom it would be an otherwise slim holiday season. I love that I get to love all these people, and they get to love me... and we get to disappoint one another and frustrate one another and drive each other crazy. And then, on Sunday, on Christmas Eve, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we get to participate in something and be in relationship with SomeOne who takes us out of our little selves and into a place where the air is clearer, the light is brighter, the colors richer, the chords more lovely. We get to be our very best selves together, because the One who loves us into wholeness already sees our perfection, even though we are not there yet.
I find most challenging the moments when convictions or ideals come into conflict with relationships or feelings. This is very hard for me. I bitterly disappointed someone this week because I am encouraging a new way of doing nominating, which pays more attention to boundary issues, to diversity and representation. This means a husband and wife will not serve on the same board. This hurt someone. She wept at the end of our session meeting last night, and told me she needs a week or so to consider whether she will resign. She was not being manipulative. She was genuinely grieving. I turned myself into a human pretzel to try to convince her that this has nothing to do with her or her husband's gifts, years of service, status as beloved pillars in the congregation. But the bottom line is, my way of doing things... new to this congregation... hurt someone. I absolutely hate these moments. And because I am an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs scale, it's an enormous challenge to me to hold firm. I want to make it better. I want to preserve the relationship.
But I do love it all.