Monday, January 19, 2009

Fake it 'till you make it.

I'm sure we have all heard this phrase at one time or another. If you haven't, I'm both shocked and envious. But, I would like to explore this phrase a bit deeper, especially its implications in the world of ministry.

The sad reality is that this attitude, more than any other, has indoctrinated the ministry culture America today. Thousands of ministers, though they would never admit it publicly are caught in this web of "justified deception". You see, here's the problem that many full-time ministers face:

1. If you work for the church, and are supposed to be the 'head' and spiritual guidance, you can not then ask your church or prayer when you are struggling with something. Because, your livelihood and income depends on them looking up to you and wanting to follow you. (That's a whole 'nother post waiting to happen)

2. You also can not really talk to other ministers, because lets face it, they gossip a lot more than most people, and if you're in that crowd you know it. Also, you need to protect your career and possible future opportunities, so if you have a secret that gets out, it might make things worse for your later.

3. Because of these first two causes, the result is you develop a plastic layer on the outside of your personality (and in my opinion soul) that reflects the "Godly" character that you are expected to portray. And in doing this, you have cauterized yourself into a lonely, self-loathing box that unless you continue to 'fake it' you can not escape from.

I realize that many of you may not have experienced the dark evil underbelly of the major machine of ministry. But, let me assure you, it is real. And it is well oiled and ready for action every Sunday.

I do not fault the pastors and lay ministers that get caught up in this cycle with 100% of the blame for this tragedy. They are just a much, if not more, the victims of this wretchedly repetitive cycle as the rest of us. The only difference is, they suffer in the quite serenity of an empty sanctuary each and every day while the rest of us go to work.

If we continue to "fake" it, then do we ever really ever "make" it? Honestly, if the victory you receive is won by ill-gotten means, is it still a victory? Have you really won anything of value? I believe if we are to break the vicious cycle of vapid vanity in the church, then we must do away with the old thinking that sanctified is perfect. We, as sinful humans, though we are created in the image of God, are not gods ourselves, and even with the blood of Jesus, are still not perfect... So, why do we try to act like it?! If we really want to be the Body of Christ and minister to one another the way that Jesus intended for us to do...

We must embrace our weaknesses and be able to share them and work through them with fellow believers.

We must be willing to see that holy community is as important as holy communion. We are not islands in the ocean of faith. Without a strong connection to the body, no one part can survive.

We need one another to remain feed, strong, protected, connected, and most importantly... to grow.

We must also realize that being who the Lord has called us to be is not a destination to be reached... it is journey to be undertaken.

I realize that for most of us, the thought of changing the way we think about and look at church or ministry is unthinkable, even heretical. But, isn't that exactly what Jesus did? Should we not be constantly evaluating our thoughts, actions, motivations AND ministries to see if they are still in line with the Gospel and mission that Jesus left for us to do?

The point at which we hold our traditions and programs on equal level with the scriptures, we have become the pharisees of old, and have trans our faith into the very thing that Jesus died to abolish.

- Just a thought.


Mark Logan said...

Wow man, that's a tough pill to swallow. I've seen a lot of veteran church members that seem to ignore the fact that ALL have fallen short. And, no matter what ritual or ceremonial facade you put on, you're just as undeserving of salvation as the most seemingly holy person in the church. It is a gift. Being a follower of Christ is not a performance. I think it really is all about the journey. But too many people new to the church realize the same thing, but in an effort to remain seemingly holy, dismiss the feeling (maybe for fear of an appearance of having a lesser faith). We, as Christians, are not bound to another church members judgement of our life or holyness. It's not their opinion that matters.

Crystal said...

Oh, I like this one! Mainly because, for once, you aren't preaching at me! I do know exactly what you're talking about, though. I could list many family members who are or were in the ministry. Most of our family's friends (when I was growing up) were in the ministry. So I've seen the almost forced hypocrisy that comes along with these positions. It's sad, really, because so many ministers are really good people and love God, but they get caught in the struggle to be seen as holy and perfect and lose their humanity. Ultimately, this makes them ineffective and crippled. Quite the opposite of their goal, really. I love that the early disciples/apostles were very human -- that their flaws are recorded for all generations to see. Too bad we lose sight of the fact that we ALL need Christ and we ALL need encouragement and we ALL have issues in our lives we need help with once in a while. Even ministers and "lay" Christians.