Friday, December 12, 2008

It's not a business

I feel like Steve Nash.

I was reading an article about a recent trade made by the Phoenix Suns (that's an NBA team, in case you didn't know). His best friend had just been traded to another team, he played rather poorly that night, and people wanted to know why. He said...
"I have a hard time committing to this as a business... I take it personally, and I take my career home with me. I care about my teammates. When you lose two of your best friends, it's hard."

I could write at length about how we have taken what is supposed to be a *game* and turned it into a business. Why can't we understand that's what is wrong with professional sports? But what bothers me is we've done the exact same thing with the church.

I don't know how many times I've been told (by some very well-meaning people), "You need to develop thicker skin to be a pastor"; or "You can't take it so personal"; or "It just goes with the job."

We don't have trades in church, but the fact is... it HURTS when people leave. As a pastor I hope I never reach a point where I don't take it personally; I hope I never get to the place where I don't take my work home with me; I hope I never stop caring about the people who come and go. My mind and emotions just don't work that way.

Now, I do realize how people can look at things in that manner. I am fully aware of the need for a certain institutional element to the church, and I realize there is a sort of consumer mindset for many people in regard to church. In the back of my mind I know it makes perfectly logical sense to not get too wrapped up in the whole "community" thing, and the "love" thing, and the "relationship" stuff...

...Is your sarcasm sensor going off yet? THERE SHOULD BE NOTHING PERFECTLY LOGICAL ABOUT OUR FAITH. God is the ultimate mystery; people are emotionally-charged and complex beings; love is not a commodity.

I don't know... I suppose I should probably just not think about it. And it's not even that people come and go from churches. I know enough to know that sometimes it happens for very legitimate reasons, and there's nothing behind it. But I'm talking about all the bad "breakups." I have had too many friends walk away, and it hurts. And it hurts even more when people tell me I shouldn't "let it" hurt.

I have a hard time committing to this as a business. I take it personally, and I take my career home with me. I care about my teammates. I hope I always do.