Monday, October 20, 2008

THE RUNAWAY PASTOR: What is Trent running from? Running to?

From emails I'm receiving, people think Trent ran from Natalie, and to Kim. Interesting.

I want those of you who have read at least the first few chapters to consider this: Maybe Trent ran from his church work, and to people like Kim, who needed--and wanted--a pastor?

Maybe, he ran from those who needed administrating, to those who needed loved, cared for?

Could that be the attraction to Kim?

Hmmm...

5 comments:

Duane said...

Okay...I have spent the last few weeks with Trent running around in my mind. The writer gave me a sneak peak at the rest of the story. I read the entire thing in just a couple of hours. The book came to me while I was working through some issues of my own. Actually, I confided in David that my place away is Seattle, WA. I have never been there, but it seems far away from anything or anyone I have ever known.

Here's my take on Trent's decision to run. What is he running away from? Who is he running away from? Truthfully, I don't believe he is running away from Ministry. When he files his credentials with his bishop, he says he isn't going to need them back. Trent makes some statements of what he hoped Ministry would be and the sad side of what ministry had become. Remember, the feeling he had when he was sitting around the fire on the beach in San Diego? Remember what he said? He said, "It was special not feeling so special". See, what ministry does to people like Trent, like me, like us...ministry puts us on edge so much waiting for that phone call from a hurting church member; waiting on death; waiting on surgeries; waiting on divorces and failed relationships; waiting on "Phyllis" to complain about this or that; waiting......waiting on the edge with the fear of always having to perform. When we wait on this moment 24/7, we truly live life as if we have to do something, be somewhere, talk to someone, etc. When we aren't doing these things, waiting, we feel guilty.

Today, I decided not to answer my phone. I have hit it pretty hard during the last month, waiting...and so I decided when the phone rang at 9AM and it was the church calling me...I decided not to answer. 3 more calls from the church came before noon. I just now listened to 14 voicemails. There was nothing pressing that I had to be waiting on Monday. The phone calls all could have waited until Tuesday. No one died, no one had surgery, no one left their spouse...nothing. Yet, in my mind I felt a tinge guilty when the third call came.

Trent was tired of waiting. You could analyze why he left and what he was either running away from or running to; Did Trent run away from Natalie, did he run to the possibility of someone else?

When the woman was hurt, he ran to her. He wasn't waiting for that phone call, he wasn't waiting on anything. He was enjoying life. He just left all life's stress behind him, he was living in a bungalow on the edge of paradise, he had a great new "waiting-less" job, and he was having a meal with a woman who expected nothing out of him. He was living his back in the deep dark secret of his mind dream.

I keep going back to what Trent said about ministry. We all know that when Jesus modeled for us what ministry was all about, he did it in front of 12 people. 12 unlikely, but the luckiest characters in all of history. Jesus worked with these 12 for 3 years. The machine that we call ministry has evolved into a system where it has become necessary to build bigger buildings, grow huge crowds, and raise more money than any pastor before who pastored our church. How does this help the Kingdom? Certainly there are churches that have found their niche' in their communities and are "growing".

What if Leonard Sweet is right about the future shape of the church. That we would be tribes of Christians instead of flocks. What if we would better serve the Kingdom if we took 12 people or a group of people and worked with them and nurtured them (while they are working and nurturing us)...would the kingdom look any different?

Instead of being able to do this on a more than temporary basis; we are faced with the challenge of raising enough funds to pay church mortgages and apportionment's that never seem to make sense.

Before this sounds like I am complaining, let me finish my thought.

Trent was running away from Trent. The writer paints a picture of Trent that supports his ideals of ministry. He longs for a ministry opportunity where he can make a difference in people's lives; instead of the ministry making a devastating difference in his life.

I believe there are more reasons to support this view in later chapters. Trent was created to minister to people. Whatever happens in the rest of the book, it seems that Trent would not be happy unless he is ministering to someone on some level.

Sorry for the long post...but it is what it is.

Zee said...

Trent could not run to Kim because he did not know he'll find her. and he could not exactly run from people who needed to be loved and cared for because we see that having that opportunity and actually helping someone "accidentally" (i.e. just someone whom Trent meets as the day goes) makes him ultimately happy. he obviously enjoys really caring and really helping.

i agree with Duane that Trent was running away from himself, but at the same time (i know it will sound weird, but hang in there, i'll explain what i mean) he was running to Trent.

he was running from Trent he became, Trent he pretended to be, Trent everyone EXPECTED him to be. he ran away from expectations of other people.

but at the same time, he was running to himself. that's why Kim's question "Who are you?" hit so hard... in an effort to be someone everyone wanted him to be, he forgot who he was in the first place and being away from people who knew him (or thought they knew), he was free to help, free to love, and free to care for people who needed Love.

haven't read the whole thing yet and i can't wait for the next chapter, but those are my thoughts on 5 chapters.

Zee

david said...

"It was special not feeling so special." That does hit a nerve here Duane. But then you go on to speak of pastors being "on the edge," waiting for that next...crisis or complaint. And I guess this would be my next question...maybe the next posting?

Is this the biblical way? Is ONE person called to care for so many. I mean, I LOVE that part of the job that takes me into intensive care units to love people, and to the side of families in crisis, etc. I'm only asking, where does it indicate that there should be a person with the contemporary job description that pastors have. All jobs are tough...but where does it say that the emotional issues, the health issues, the petty-argument-issues of hundreds of people, the need to be holy and profound at every instant, the need to be a capable administrator, properties facilitator, financial and strategic planner, marketing director, and the need to be something special and completely different than any other member of the circle...especially considering that each member of that circle assumes by default they are your boss, freelance critic, and ultimately the one who votes you and your family on or off the island... That is a tough job description. And I'll deal with all of it, but the loving part is easier than the refereeing and administrating and "knows all of the answers" parts. Who says that should be on the shoulders of one man or woman in a congregation? I don't think its in the book.

It would be so special to not be special. And there are times that we all long for that. I can hear people thinking this is not such a big deal...but if you haven't been there...

And Zee, you put it so well (as usual). Running from Trent and to Trent. I get it, and I agree.

Grace and peace!

Duane said...

Zee - I agree with you as well. Trent was running away from what he became and running towards the person he was created to become.

I would like to sit down with the two of you at an obscure little coffee shop somewhere and just talk about this stuff face to face.

Till then, we blog...

Zee said...

Duane - yeah, to have a talk about all these issues in an obscure little coffee shop sounds wonderful except for one lil obstacle: i'm in Ukraine. so guess, the phrase "till then, we blog" gonna stay...

David - i was reading your comment and thought... (maybe i am stating the obvious)... for many people in Church, the Pastor is kinda like God, Deputy God of sorts... therefore it's easy to assume that the Pastor, being so mighty, can handle everything, including (quoting) "the emotional issues, the health issues, the petty-argument-issues of hundreds of people, the need to be holy and profound at every instant, the need to be a capable administrator, properties facilitator, financial and strategic planner, marketing director, and the need to be something special and completely different than any other member of the circle...especially considering that each member of that circle assumes by default they are your boss, freelance critic, and ultimately the one who votes you and your family on or off the island... "...

and then, as i said before in another post comment, often Pastors have a difficulty of admitting to his / her parish that they are not strong enough for that job because (1) supposedly people will quote Philippians 4:13 "i can do ALL THINGS in Christ who strengthens me", therefore if we admit we're weak, then they will accuse us of not having enough faith or (2) they will think that if even we, being Pastors, cannot handle stuff like that, then they don't even have to try since they are obviously not strong enough...

and before i start rambling, just wanna say that pastors should not be ashamed of admitting their weaknesses (with care, but still, not hold it all inside - one day it will blow up and then....oooh) and gently remind people that pastors are people too.

okay, i'm off my soap box :)