Lately, when people have asked me how they can pray for me or what’s been on my mind now that I’ve been ordained, I’ve said that I’m trying to figure out this new pastoral identity. Sure, I’ve been doing ministry work for a while now, but there was something about the official-ness of ordination that pushed me to this point where being a pastor is no longer a thought experiment.
I’m not trying it out.
I’m a pastor now.
But what does that mean for my identity?
Who am I and how do I relate to my church, my community, my friends and my family?
Does anything change?
I’ve had several conversations on the topic recently. One good nugget of advice was to remember that there is a power dynamic that exists between pastor and congregant… that a mere suggestion from a pastor can be understood as a command by a congregant… that when it comes to spiritual matters, we are shepherds and sheep; we are leading even in casual conversation.
I get this.
But at the same time it seems so burdensome. If my college friends decided to become members of my church, would I have to suppress a part of me for the sake of the image of being a pastor? Would I have to be someone other than myself? People have told me that the pastoral life is a lonely life… but does that mean I can never really be known?
I do wonder if the “lonely life” is, in part, self-generated. Not completely… just in part. I’m already naturally withdrawn (yet at the same time long to be known/understood) so is it just downhill from here?
I think… at the moment… I’m willing to navigate between this and work with the messiness of it all. friendship and vulnerability, by definition is not safe. ministry isn’t safe. they should be great together! hope to one day come back to this post and find bits of clarity.