The sentence hit me like a ton of bricks. I was re-reading Bonhoeffer’s Life Together when I came across the following:
A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. (Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Life Together, Harper and Row, 1954, p. 29.)
What? A pastor can’t complain about his church? I thought that was a natural right of ministers. What else would we pray about if we couldn’t explain to God we would be much better ministers if we were only at a different church? What would we talk about to our pastor friends if we couldn’t complain about our churches?
OK, let’s get real. I’m no Pollyanna. I’ve been doing what I do for a long time. There’s nothing about a Baptist church I haven’t seen or heard. Like Paul, all of us bear on our bodies (and souls) the marks of ministry.
But can we at least reframe the question? Perhaps the question isn’t, “What’s wrong with these people?” Maybe the question we should ask is, “Why am I sent to them?”
with this conclusion:
As I write this, it’s Monday morning and I’m in the office trying to sort through emails and phone messages about hurts and heartbreaks we heard about in yesterday’s services. This is what I do. This is what you do. It’s why we’re here. Broken people are hurting people.
Jesus said sick, wounded, and broken people were the reasons the Father had sent Him. These same people are the reasons He sends us.
I know a number of you who read this are also pastors/ministers – both ordained and equivalent or doing the hard yards of lay ministry. We often have moments where the people we are looking after are just plain difficult – let’s not pretend otherwise. This is a healthy reminder that those moments are purely avenues for our frustration, they’re the very reason we’re sent.