Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Kaleidoscope

A few nights ago the mother of one our teenagers(I'll call her Rachel) called me to ask if I could meet with them to discuss "Rachel's lying." Rachel is a straight A student, sweet, cute and very serious about her faith. In short, she's every mother's dream (and every pastor's dream, for that matter!) Her mom told me that Rachel had been falling into a pattern of telling little lies to either get what she wants or avoid getting into trouble. The latest incident involved her losing her house keys and pretending to find them so that she could go to lock-in at a friend's church. I was thinking, "Okay, she sounds like a very normal 16 year old to me." But clearly, her mom was very upset about her daughter straying off the straight and narrow, so I agreed to meet with them.

So tonight I met with mom, dad, and Rachel for coffee. Rachel was, as always, very polite but clearly mortified that she had to have a meeting with her parents and the pastor. I knew that she had to feel pretty ganged up on. So after asking everyone to relay just the facts of the situation at hand, I felt that I had to let Rachel know that this meeting was not just for her benefit, but for the whole family. So I turned to Rachel and said, "Please tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that you're thinking, 'Mom and Dad, you should thank your lucky stars! I'm a good student. I don't drink or do drugs. And you're getting all worked up and calling the pastor because I fibbed about some house keys?'" Rachel breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Thank you, that's exactly how I feel about this!"

We were then able to have a really good discussion about how dishonesty can erode the trust in relationships and create big problems for a person. Rachel was also able to share how she feels that her mom and dad, in being so strict with her, sometimes create situations where she feels she has to lie in order to have any fun at all. It was a good meeting because this family genuinely loves each other and cares about their relationships.

Well,the main reason I am writing about this is because of the way I felt afterwards: hopeful, used by God, and fulfilled even. Since August, I've only felt this way in my work twice, both times after preaching good sermons. Our Interim Pastor began in August and I resumed my part-time associate position after 4 months of being the full-time acting Head of Staff. Since then, I have done precious little preaching and pastoral care, which I believe are my primary gifts for ministry. It is no wonder that I feel so energized after preaching and spending time listening to others.

I love the folks in the congregation I serve. They are truly wonderful and have been so good to me and my family. They are mission and justice oriented and have the best lay leadership, bar none. I am actually a little afraid that I have been spoiled for any other church, and I'm not really joking when I say that! However, I have for some time now been feeling the restlessness of the Spirit preparing me for a new ministry location. I just don't know what or where that will be right now. I keep having this image of a kaleidoscope in my mind. When you turn it, all the little pieces shift to create a new picture. Right now, I'm waiting for another piece to shift so I can fall into place.

In the meantime, faithfulness. And savoring ministry moments, such as tonight.


Unknown said...

Rachel will always remember your kindness and understanding. Great job, Pastor!

revhipchick said...

thank you for sharing.

it sounded like you handled this is the best way possible--kudos!

one of our teens had parents who couldn't acknowledge their teen's goodness and it was the saddest thing--she even ended up living with us this fall as she finished her last semester of high school. i wish i would have had your wisdom a few years ago--although her parents wouldn't have trusted anyone else enough to call. i feel blessed just by reading how you handled it. beautiful!

good luck on you period of discernment!

way to go iris! i'm totally inspired and grateful for your wisdom and sense of humor. i'm going to remember this for the future (hopefully with my own girls as well as ministry)!

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

What Alex said! And the kalaidascope! I'm stopping right now to pray for that next piece to fall into place when it is right.