The Fig Leaf of Pastoral Ministry: Part 3

Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here

“…they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”  
     — Genesis 3:7

I didn’t resign from the ministry because it had become a fig leaf. I’m not sure any pastor does. But the net effect is the same. When the fig leaf is pulled away, shame creeps up from under your skin and reddens your face.

I’ve been asked where that fig leaf has gone for about two weeks now.

“Why are you no longer a pastor?”

And I instinctively feel the need to justify myself –  this woman you gave me made me eat. Just saying something simple without any details feels like a death. And I’m beginning to think maybe it’s supposed to.

I’ll find another fig leaf somewhere. Maybe it will be excellence in banking. Being able to understand all the little details and addendums could be it. Maybe it will be family. Maybe it will be money (that would be nice.) Maybe it will be my resignation from the pastorate…not being a pastor. Being a former one.

Any one or collection of them will do.

When it happens, my hope is that I will have eyes to see my own foolish desire to cover my shame. And when I’m strutting around in it like I’m something, I wanna have ears to hear when the preacher points and says – he’s only wearing a fig leaf! 

3 thoughts on “The Fig Leaf of Pastoral Ministry: Part 3

  1. Anonymous September 23, 2011 / 4:14 pm

    i've been following your blog for quite some time, about a year or so. I recently had to make the choice to step away from the ministry that was entrusted to me because of some personal reasons. Your blog has been especially poignant lately and I just want to take the time to thank you for being so candid with your process. I'm really really taking a lot from it. Thank you.

  2. Marcie September 23, 2011 / 11:51 pm

    Great posts, Matt. We pastors' wives know a thing about sporting fig leaves, too. Really great reminder to all of us to not find our worth in anything apart from Christ. Btw, you made me lol about finding your fig leaf in money. Thanks for letting us process with you.

  3. janetstephens September 24, 2011 / 3:51 pm

    Matt, It seems like Keith and I have done so many things that didn't make sense to others, but that we really felt God leading us to do. I get asked why Keith is pastoring a Mennonite church in Jay, FL, when we have Baptist/Charismatic roots and live in Mobile. I get asked why I live in Mobile and teach in Mississippi. I get asked why Keith has a college and seminary degree and drives a gasoline truck on the side (as well as pastors). I've told Keith before that I hate it when our lives don't "make sense", because I'm a fairly logical person and I like for things to make sense! I am now realizing through your blogs that these "embarrassments" are something God is using to purify me and draw me first to Him. Thank you!

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