I made up in my mind to be in a room with several clergy from around my current connection. It was a time apart designed to encourage clergy who have been serving in the best way possible throughout the two year long pandemic. I listened to colleagues express their pain and challenges experienced during this season.
Many times, I have entered into these spaces very aware of who I am and possibly perceived in these spaces. The reality is that I understand that my voice or similar voices like mind are not always welcomed or embraced in times of trial and difficulty. Why? The idea of trials and tribulations do not rest as a certain level of normalcy to people who live into position, provision, and prosperity.
As a black man, pastor, and leader, I find it condescending to sit in spaces where people attempt to coddle individuals experiencing a different reality for the first time. Fact is you have people who know unapologetically Jehovah Jireh. People exist with practical application and a 400+ year litany of dealing with oppression, unrest, maligning, and injustice. YOU HAVE ANSWERS IN THE ROOM!!!!!
Here is the problem. Most people do not desire to receive what is necessary. Mostly, people are afraid to approach answers because it will reveal one’s dependence on the benefits of systems and constructs. I get it. The idea of feeling the pain of lacking success (whatever that looks like) or seeing decline maybe foreign to some of my counterparts.
The funny thing is that being Black in this country and the church gives the exact credentials necessary to navigate lean seasons. Those who facing a taste of difficulty may not realize that they are talking about an average Wednesday for many of us.
The most disheartening thing is hearing the statement that there are no answers for getting through this season. NO ANSWERS! REALLY FAM!!! Yes, a once in 100 year pandemic was not apart of the syllabus of life. I get that people where forced to learn and adjust with new methods. But no answers?
The answers we need are not regarding finding a way to preserve the remaining remnants of a past life of comfort. Ministry has a default setting. The setting calls for us to be instant (wait for it…) in season and out of season. When we forget that foundational premise of our call, we must come back and assess what we have been called to do.
If it sounds like I’m being a little edgy or lacking sympathy, you might be right. However, you have to understand how my daily existence is constructed. When I get up in the morning, I get out of the house with the words of my wife on my mind. Make sure you get home. I got to make sure that nothing happens to me so I can get home to my wife and son. That same sentiment resonates with me regarding my wife and son. That does not include my other responsibilities with extended family, two congregations, and other civic work.
I have been in ministry for 24 years. I have openly shared about the various battles and trials of my life. I recognize that everyone will not have the same experiences. Yet, we have too many resources on survival that are not in books. People must be willing to no longer discount or overlook those who can speak with authority to navigating adversity.
Maybe this season is not about commiserating about what no longer exists. Maybe it is time to renew our resolve to serve God, preach the unfiltered gospel, and find healing from the transformative hand of God. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate our faith journey learn about God all over again.