It was thirty years ago today that I was ordained to the ministry, and today I feel infinitely more in need of grace than I did then--grace from God and grace from others.
Not long ago, I talked to three different pastors in a single week--all three conscientious, absolutely devoted, extremely capable, and loving--who each felt battered and bruised by the criticisms and opposition they’ve been experiencing from members of their own flocks. I can identify.
Much of that is to be expected, I know--I read not long ago a new (for me) definition of leadership: “To lead is to make decisions, and to make decisions is to alienate some.” While that may be a little too cynical, it is true that leadership of necessity requires tough decisions to be made, and tough decisions by nature tend to be displeasing to a certain proportion of the people being led. Still, though, as a pastor I’m constantly reminded not only of my own failings (of which there are many) but also of others’ perceptions of my failings (of which there are even more).
All of which is to say, not “Woe is me” (though I lapse into self-pity more than many, I’m guessing), but to say instead, “Man, I am unspeakably grateful for my God who gives me grace...and for the many, many of his children and my colaborers in the Gospel who do likewise. I need it. More and more, I think.”