(wow a nonsensical string of semi-concious thoughts… welcome to the madness of my mind)
Of course doing ministry is a humble profession. The pay’s not the greatest, the hours aren’t so great, you have to selflessly hold other people up and continually encourage them.
But it’s funny. I’ve noticed that somehow, a power dynamic is formed when you are on ministry. Of course, ministry is the expression of Christ’s love, which is compassion. Compassion means to “suffer with”. It is an act of downward mobility. But somehow, one is viewed as a saint, so in humbling oneself, he or she is viewed as superior to other people. It’s such a weird dynamic to think about. And it’s weirder how it plays out in relationships. People who were once your peers look at you differently. I’ve always been insecure about that. I hate lording power over people who should be my friends. It’s easy for me to be a leader of people in ministry, but when it comes to those that are closest to me (my friends), it is hard for me to lead them. On one hand, I don’t know how to reconcile my role as a friend with being a minister, and who I should be when I’m around my friends. On the other hand, they know who I really am beyond my ministry identity. So it’s hard for them to hear my voice when I challenge or try to speak wisdom. One of my friends actually told me something along the lines of… “you’re full of s!@#, Daniel. I know you’re just being a comm major.”
Okay, that goes into a whole other realm- my struggle of having a degree in communications, which is basically a degree in marketing, which is a degree in “presentation”, which is a nice way of describing my degree in telling the near truth (lying, b.s., etc.). But the point of that is that I have so many parts of my identity. I have trouble confining it all into the category of ministry. Or rather, I am troubled at how easily compartmentalized ministry is, and how limited of a scope that is. It’s rather frustrating. It hurts when people confine me to just one identity.
I have a punk rock friend who just saw my facebook. He saw that my political views were “very liberal”. He began to ask me how I could say that if I really loved Jesus. He’s had so many people criticize him at church for being liberal that he just left. He couldn’t comprehend how I could actually say “very liberal”, especially since I wasn’t exactly liberal in high school. There’s a politics dynamic there, and then there is the assumption from only knowing a past Daniel.
I’m really tired of the assumptions sometimes. There are people who I swear are avoiding me just because they heard I am now doing ministry. I kind of wish that I didn’t have the title sometimes so that I could just minister to them as a friend. They don’t invite me to parties anymore because there is alcohol… or they think they can’t share things that are viewed as sinful because I would condemn them.
It’s a little funny though. It’s the total opposite extreme in other circles. I’m seen as a pagan because of things I believe or things that I say. So a cuss word slips out once in a while. So I tell high schoolers it could be okay to date (true love waits, but sure doesn’t procrastinate!). So I think Barak Obama has some okay things to say. So I watch futurama. So I might actually be a real person.
What i’m getting to in this rant is that it seems that to be a minister, one must become totally inhuman, and to become a real person, one must become a complete pagan. This doesn’t make sense to me. Jesus came and he ministered out of becoming completely human. (They say humanism is dangerous to Christianity, but I think this is the redemption- that God’s strategy to save humanity was to become more human). His identity as being the Son of God was highly disputed, but He was able to retain that integrity.
I’m trying desperately to find out how Jesus’s power dynamic in ministry is reached. In His weakness, not his popularity, was God’s love shown. Ministry drove him to be able to relate so much easier to those around Him, not harder. His radical relationship with God did not destroy his earthly relationships, but formed the drive and basis on which he related to all those around him.
I am many things. All the assumptions people make are not lies. They are all truth. But I’d say everyone has an incomplete view of me. They all know me based on the context of our relationship. But really, I live in the flux between several contexts. I have several identities, and they are all me. They do not compromise who I am- they form who I am. People always say that people put on masks depending on who they are with, but rarely show who they are. Those that are able to show who they are consistently are seen as the most confident and mature. The problem is, sometimes I’m not sure if there’s anything but masks in my identity. Perhaps I’m just an amalgamation of all the assumptions of others. The social construct of the societal contexts that I find myself suspended in.
But then again, there’s something else to me. beyond all the assumptions of others, beyond my assumptions… there’s a child that is loved by God. Before all the assumptions, before all the reputations… there is a child that was created and loved by a powerful God. I have trouble believing that sometimes. Could that really be at the center of who I am? Could I really find confidence in that?
Let’s hope so. Jesus was fully aware of his identity as fully human, but he was also fully aware that he was accepted and loved by God. Putting those two into balance were what made him such an effective minister. I can only hope I can bring my “ministry identity” to that place of balance.
I’m not sure how to end this. I don’t have clear cut answers for mysel-