There’s nothing to applaud here. Applause should be reserved for the pastors who have seen this and pastored accordingly. I’m sure some do it by instinct. I was not among them and that’s why there’s regret.

I never really understood the difficulty of living the Christian life in the real world, outside of vocational ministry. My experience of working outside vocational ministry was in part time jobs and one full-time on the way to Seminary. So that may be part of it. But I’m not sure I can lay the cause at the feet of ignorance alone.

Loving the people I ministered to seemed secondary. I would have never admitted it but that’s most likely part of what was the problem. I wanted to see them do things that justified my ministry more than I wanted to love them.

I did love them. It’s not that I didn’t. But I’m not sure it bothered me when I didn’t show it or feel it.

And so I was not very compassionate about the difficulties of living out the Christian life when you’re not a pastor. 

It would not be fair to say I would do this or not do that. But generally speaking, I’d like to think I’d be more gracious about what they did with their time and money. I’d like to think I would be more tender in my speech. And I’d like to think I’d be slower to speak and quicker to listen.

But again, I can’t say I would do those things.

Now that I’m working in a bank, these regrets are easy. It’s easy for me see the struggle because I’m in the middle of it. I can understand wanting to stay home on a weeknight with my family. I can understand the need for a word of peace instead of having my toes stood upon. I loved stepping on toes more than comforting the heart. I should have been more patient with the bruised reeds.

It’s easy to say that now because I am one. I’m in a job I’m terrible at and my days seem long and repetitive. My comforts are lunch, instant messages, and conversations with the security guard. How many people did I speak to, counsel with, and preach at who struggled as I do now?

I just wanted to hit home runs as a teacher/preacher.

A pastor’s job is hard too. And I always wanted people to see that. I just wasn’t all that in tune with the difficulties of those I was pastoring. I saw the dangers they needed to be aware of. I saw the temptations. And I could see their faults in technicolor.

But what should have made me lean into my calling -their faults and needs and fears and struggles and pains – far too often all that was just fuel thrown on an already burning desire to control and change them.

So I regret it. I wish I’d known then what I know now.

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