I had blogged through grad school and during my year at the children’s hospital. I enjoyed it, and it was a good way to process what I was seeing and dealing with and to occasionally remind people how mortal we are when the realization got too big for me to hold on my own. In some ways it was simple — I followed HIPPA, and everything was great — and then I became a pastor.
Don’t get me wrong, this has been a wonderful change in many many ways. I sleep in my own bed. I have flexibility with my schedule. I witness a lot less death and trauma. I get to preach and preside over the sacraments. I form more long term relationships with folks. (This is not a list of equals — don’t judge). There is one change that is particularly relevant to right now though — my worlds are now combined.
Previously, the hospital was one world and home and church and stuff was another “and never the twain shall meet“ as they say. Now my worlds are combined though. My church and my community overlap. I am never ‘off-call’ so to speak. (But praise be I no longer have a pager!) I realize that what I write here could negatively affect my ministry. My desire to write makes the world more complicated.
Or does it? I was writing with a friend about her call to ministry and how, unless you’re Gideon or Moses, we don’t generally have the same certainty. “Did God really call me to be a minister or did He say minstrel?” we may ask ourselves on some days. But what I wrote her was this. “In regard to calling, I think we’re all reluctant prophets. The ones who are too confident tend to scare me.” And that’s the truth. The people who say they know what God is thinking all the time are generally trying to get you to buy them a private jet or at least trying to convince us that they have it all together all the time, no doubt, no questions, just answers. And that’s not my take. If I understood everything about God then it must be the version of God I’ve made for myself. Tangent over.
So, in writing or not writing, I’ve already made the choice to try and be a reluctant prophet. One who tries to listen to the Spirit and speak truth in love. (But actually speak truth in love — not just say harsh things and call it “speaking the truth in love”). One who doesn’t claim to have all the answers but is happy to read and listen and pray with you as we search. And while I don’t actually claim to have anything else in common with the prophets of old, I can see the resemblance sometimes in getting in over my head, not always wanting to repeat what I’ve read or understood the Holy Spirit to be prompting me to say, and like the most famous reluctant prophet of them all — getting overly focused on parts of the job that aren’t central — can you say “stop complaining about the plant already Jonah?!”
So here I am, writing on the internet again. Having words that are brimming up inside me, but being reluctant to let them out. Realizing that in writing or speaking, in preaching or teaching, the choice has been and always will be the same. Will we listen to the Holy Spirit? Will we speak truth out of love? Will we seek the Kingdom? Even when we’re unsure, afraid, or when we feel unworthy? Then maybe we all really are reluctant prophets after all.