I don’t do that anymore

I ran into this guy today who used to pop into the church now and then when I was a pastor. He was one of those guys who didn’t really know much about Christianity and didn’t seem to put much effort into it. But he talked a lot about it when he was at church. I remember he used a lot of real sappy spiritual language all the time. He asked how the church was going. I guess he hasn’t been back in a couple of years.
“I’m not the pastor there anymore.”
“Really? Did you go to another church?”
“No man, I don’t do that anymore.”
This dumbfounded him. Like it never crossed his mind that you could be a minister and then not be one. He seemed distressed by the idea.“What do you mean you don’t do that anymore? You took vows and shit, right?”
“Why did you stop?”
I still don’t know how to explain this to people.”I just couldn’t do it anymore. Whatever you need to do that, I ran out of it I guess.”
His shoulder sagged a bit and he looked away.

I had this feeling that I needed to do something more with this encounter. Maybe ask how he was doing spiritually or something. Bu honestly, I don’t even know what that means. And then I got really angry and said “NO!” to myself in a stern voice.

We said we should get together sometime. But I doubt if we will.

I just can’t shake this feeling that somehow I dropped the ball with this encounter. And I feel bad about it. I have to admit that. I do feel badly. And I’m kind of pissed that I feel bad, if that makes any sense. I’m angry that I feel bad. And it makes me not want to run into anyone like this again.

Because right now, I just don’t want to feel bad anymore. When I was a pastor, I felt bad all the time. I was never good enough for Jesus. Never cared enough about people. Never enough.

I hate that shit so much.


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  • I remember when my parents divorced, some people took it personally, and had to let me know how much it affected them. In fact, it didn’t affect them–at all–but I think the outward appearance of the happy family made them feel there was something worthwhile out there in the world, and even if they didn’t feel THEY were worthwhile, SOMETHING was.

    I always felt like telling them how sorry I was for their loss.

  • Funny how those who think they ARE good enough for Jesus, think they are ENTITLED to God’s Grace, rarely are. But those who don’t worry so much about their own righteousness because they are more concerned with others are EXACTLY what Jesus had in mind: Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)

  • Kristin

    Maybe say the opposite of that last couple of paragraphs. something like “I’m happier where I am now, than I have been in a long time. Maybe you should join me sometime.” Either way, I think you should let yourself off the hook. it was never your job to provide him with his spirituality. that’s a journey he has got to take.

  • Ashevillian

    A spiritual worldview that makes you feel unrelentingly bad about your role in life is one that is worth reconsidering. I’m so glad you are finding your way to something more sustaining. (Pascale here.)

  • pastordt

    Yeah, I get the feeling bad AND the feeling bad about feeling bad. I doubt very much that you dropped the ball and whatever those guilt-voices are, they’re not from the best part of you nor are they from God. You were honest, you chose not to explain yourself – which you surely did not need to do – and you were cordial. No ball-dropping that I can see. I am convinced that God never meant us to ‘feel bad.’ To regret our bent toward sin? Yes. But a generalized, covering cloud of guilt and regret? No way. Open both your hands and let.it.go.

  • Nancy

    99% of how a person reacts to you is that person’s own stuff. Sounds like this guy has a lot of stuff……and none of it is yours go take on your shoulders. It’s all between him and God….

  • If being a pastor meant feeling bad all the time, then I’m glad you stopped, Gordon. There’s no reason for that. Especially not on the part of someone as real and thoughtful as you.

  • Gordon, the brief time I spent with you at Laity showed me you are happy. That’s all I need to know. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  • janewilk

    I think it’s going to be okay, and I think you’re going to be okay. It can take some time – years, even – to heal and rest in God’s arms. In the meantime, we are holding you in the light.

  • There are those who want the clergy etc to be above ordinary Christians. He, maybe unconsciously, is putting a guilt trip on you, and there is no way you should accept that monkey. Maybe you have been used to it on your back, but like Bunyan’s pilgrim, hopefully it will fall from your back.

    “So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

    Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart,

    “He hath given me rest by his sorrow, And life by his death.”

    Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.”

    I know I fail, and I have a long way to go, but there is no point obsessing about it. Just continue to be faithful with the faith you are given.

    Disregard this if it is wide of the mark.

  • Naomi

    Your honesty gives me (a current, but hopefully not for long pastor) hope in light of my own questioning/doubt/struggle to find a new way. Thank you for your bravery and willingness to be true to who you are.

  • Kyndall

    Hmmm, I’m trying to learn how not to feel bad while I’m a pastor. I hope there’s hope for me. 🙂