All or No One
I was taught in my ministry education to keep distant from the people of my congregations. I was not to become their friend. The justifications given for this was that it would help me keep objectivity; it would prevent other members from getting jealous of my friendships; it would prevent me from becoming too exhausted, being emotionally involved in people's lives; and so on. I was reminded of this last night as Lisa and I were having a conversation with our daughter. She is 16 and loves depth in relationships. She isn't into superficiality, but appreciates relationships that are deep and meaningful. She's experienced pain as a result of this because it means she invests in relationships, only to have them sometimes get broken. It's like a piece of your heart gets amputated. It means saying goodbye. It means losing someone you love. It means going through a kind of grieving process. Love hurts. Lisa and I decided early on that this wouldn't be the way we operated. We wanted to be real right from the beginning. We wanted to invest in our relationships on every level, including emotionally. We knew it would be a more painful way to live because we already knew that some relationships aren't forever. But we also suspected that it would be a more fulfilling and happy life because we would experience what it meant to truly love and be loved. And we were right: we've lost some incredible friends. We have some incredible friends. We really do know what it is like to love someone completely and to be loved completely. But we also know what it's like to lose that suddenly and sometimes irrevocably. Reality is real, but sometimes it sucks. So the ministry strategy of distance is not unique to the ministry or pastors but is a human issue. It is not a positive method for positive results but a coping and defense mechanism against pain which is guaranteed in this line of work. To close your heart to love and being loved is a way to live a protected life. But life in this kind of bubble is soul-killing. And you can't be discriminate. Either your heart loves or it doesn't. This is, I think, one of the most important lessons I've learned over the years as a person, and it's being a pastor that help me learn it: I will either love and be loved completely, or I won't at all. It's all or no one. Jesus didn't love cautiously. And he died for it. The photo is a self-portrait of my daughter Casile. Check out my tees HERE and my art HERE.