Yesterday, my spiritual director asked me, “Do you regret being a pastor, or does it feel right?” I paused for a moment and responded, “Depends on the day.” She laughed, and my face cracked into a grin.
We were talking about the challenges facing the Christian Church, both nationally and locally. Attendance at communal worship is decreasing. White supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism are fighting to maintain dominance. Distrust within our communities festers and threatens unity.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, there’s COVID.
The odds seem ever not in our favor. Yet here I am, strangely called to pastoring.
Pastoring during COVID has been a mix of joys and sorrows: from the explosion of creativity, learning new skills, finding unique ways to connect, and the deepening of ‘wilderness’ wisdom … to managing disparate expectations and needs, the loss of touch, knowing people are slipping through the cracks. I have witnessed incredible courage and paralyzing fear. I have seen the inspirational strengthening of communal ties and the cunning creep of individualism.
In normal times, pastors are invited into the most vulnerable spaces of human life, where we see the beautiful and the horrific. COVID has been no different in this way, only the beauty is often blinding and the edges of the horrific are razor sharp.
Who would want to be a pastor, given all of this?! In fact, many are leaving parish ministry altogether. The cost of staying is often too high.
I’m not at that point, though I empathize with those who are. Rather, the confidence in my call—at least, the confidence I have most days—keeps me tethered to both relief and hope. There is relief that the church can actually change, and relatively quickly; the past year proves this. There is hope that pastoring will continue to allow me to witness the Divine in the mundane, in the transitions, in the crises. And, there is hope that our sacred texts will guide us toward loving our neighbors, inspiring selfless acts of collective solidarity.
Amidst the fleeting, if somewhat regular blips of questioning my vocation, there are enough moments where pastoring feels right. And if not today, then perhaps tomorrow.