The Closure of Pastoring

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     January 18, 2016

                                 

In our kitchen there is a cupboard door that just won’t stay latched! I get out my screwdriver, loosen the two screws, reposition the latching mechanism, tighten the screws, and shut the door. I leave the room under the illusion that I have fixed it. Two hours later, as I pass through the kitchen again, I see that the door has come unlatched again. When…I don’t know! It just did… sometime after I was sure it was closed nice and tight!

That image also defines the closure of pastoring. I preached my last sermon yesterday, was hugged and embraced at an afternoon reception, and now the cupboard has been closed.

Or has it? Similar to coming back to the kitchen a little later, pastoring is a very, very difficult thing to come to closure. The life you’ve lived for the past three and a half decades is weaved into the fabric of other people’s journeys. Like ripping a patch off of a pair of jeans, there is a mark left…perhaps a hole or a gap. A pastor is tossed between the waves of letting go and still caring so! There is the recognition that there must be a moving on, and yet the congregation you are leaving has been a vital part of your journey for as long as you can remember. The walking together has been so profound that the pastor now has a hard time remembering when certain events happened, when someone passed away, when that mission trip took place, or when someone’s serious surgery happened. It’s all a part of the story, like old episodes of M.A.S.H., that have been watched so often that the dialogue has been memorized. The journey of a pastor is the collection of stories of lives changed, grace realized, and reconciliation experienced.

And the cupboard door suddenly creaks as it slightly inches open.

How do you have closure as a pastor? I’m not sure you can. Loving a church is not like a faucet that suddenly gets turned off, or turned back on. Like the door, the depth of the relationships the pastor has had spring the latch and your heart is flooded with concern.

And I think that’s okay! A couple of weeks ago I walked into the kitchen and the cupboard door was wide open. I wasn’t expecting that and I ran right into it! When we allow the door of our ministry to remain wide open, as it was before we stepped aside, the potential for collisions is greatly increased. A pastor who refuses closure simply gets in the way, becomes a nuisance, or, at worst, a brick barrier that blocks a group of Christ-followers from continuing the journey.

I’ve given up on fixing the cupboard latch. It is what it is! And perhaps I’ll let it be as a reminder of who I am, closed but not shut!

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Death, Faith, Grace, Jesus, love, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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