I wrote this piece almost about a year ago…mid pandemic.
And from conversations with many in both ordained and lay leadership over the past year the term and experience of “burnout” sadly, is becoming all too prevalent.
In some cases utter exhaustion, even a sense of bewilderment; that a “well being” conference just ain’t going to remedy.
So, humbly, I offer this reflection for a second time here at “Wee Pilgrim”. Knowing that I too have faced and do face fragility. My prayer is that this short piece allows some food for thought that nourishes the soul and helps you keep faith with your uniqueness and calling.
“Clip” man usually sits in my office and occasionally amidst a busy and stressful working day I will ask for some of his “superpower” in helping me to “Hold my *stuff* together”.
I joke of course, but who hasn’t wanted a “Clip” man or woman in their lives, truth be told.
Whilst wrestling with this week with a few ministry related tasks (and frankly drawing a blank) I was reminded of the words of the late Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero who summed up the task of Christian service and ministry amidst a broken world as being the following…
“It helps, now and then,
to step back and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the
master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not yet our own. Amen”
Powerful words. Unsettling words.
Reminding each of us in Christian ministry that “we” are not the be all and end all…words. “Clip” man or woman words in that ultimately it’s not up to us to hold things together words. Words and a Gospel truth to live by, as Archbishop Romero was to be martyred in his stand for the poor against a right wing military dictatorship.
If you have been (like me) amidst the Covid pandemic, seeking to find ways to hold onto Christian ministry and indeed re-imagine many aspects of Christian ministry, Romero’s prayer offers insight, wisdom and assurance…
“The Kingdom of God is not only beyond our efforts; it is beyond our vision”. Thanks be to God.
“…the kingdom lies beyond us”. Thanks be to God.
“We plant seeds that will one day grow.” Thanks be to God.
“We lay foundations that will need further development”. Thanks be to God.
“We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.” Thanks be to God.
And maybe, just maybe, amidst the ongoing chaos of a global pandemic (and after effects) and its toll on countless numbers and its toll on each of us when we can no longer hold our *stuff* together…
there is a call to continue to work as hard, yes but in the knowledge that we might rest…
In laying foundations.
In being a worker.
and not the Messiah.
That responsibility lies elsewhere. Thanks be to God.
Thanks and thanks again to God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.