Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Real World and Clergy

I recently heard these words about the clergy, “I don’t want [spiritual] direction by some pious fool who doesn't know what real life is about.” 

Sometimes I hear that there is a difference between Church, the life and ministry of clergy, and the REAL WORLD. This is what I say when I hear words about how clergy don’t know what real life is about. 

The clergy I know work over 50+ hours a week – many more than 60. They are not compensated fairly for their level of expertise but do it out of a sense of calling and devotion to God’s people.Clergy labor under the stresses and strains of a job at the crossroads of business, religion, spirituality, and public speaking. They take potshots from members of the church about how this or that was not quite good enough; meanwhile, they manage crisis after crisis. Their families at times are poorly treated by members of the congregation. Mothers glared at for noisy children, parishioners yelling at spouses because something the priest said or did. Yet, clergy walk with people through cancer, fevers, illness, deaths of beloved parents, suicides, and the death of a child. They have stepped bravely into the midst of family crisis often times taking arrows from the very people they are trying to help. They try and broaden their people's horizons on issues affecting the culture while being told they are heretical or having their job threatened. They have fought against racism and all manner of evil at great personal cost. I know many who have sat in hospital rooms with parents holding dead infants, sat at the bedside of a dying parishioner who had no family, and pulled over at the roadside to pray and help a stranger. I know still others who have gone into battle with their brothers and sisters in foreign lands. Clergy have called together communities to rescue people from slavery, to feed the poor, and to give voice to the voiceless. I know clergy who have heard literally thousands of 5th steps, confessions, and lies - and they have kept the faith. 

So this is what I think. If anyone knows about the real world it is the clergy person, the deacon, the priest and bishop, only they can be foolish enough to have faith given everything they have seen and experienced. They not only know what real life is about, they have committed their whole life to walking with people through it regardless of what it brings, regardless of the faithful and the faithless, and regardless of where it leads.  So today, in this real world I live in, I give thanks for the men and women with whom I get to share this life of ministry.

22 comments:

Ben Alford said...

Thanks Andy. blessings on you and yours. Ben Alford

The Rev. Torey Lightcap said...

Thank you so much! You made my week.

Charles Wilson said...

Thank you Bishop Doyle. Resurrecting words for tired clergy! Thank you from way up yonder in Southern Ohio!

Charles Wilson said...

Thank you Bishop Doyle. Resurrecting words for tired clergy! Thank you from way up yonder in Southern Ohio!

GG said...

Amen. Thanks for this reminder, Andy.

12StepSteve said...

You nailed it Bishop (pun intended). But on a more serious note, much of the most important work that clergy do is not at the pulpit or the altar or even on Church real estate but in the world. Being a cradle Episcopalian is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Mary MacGregor said...

Absolutely true. I find it an honor to work with these real life servants of God and God's people. Thank you bishop for this reminder.

Chris Huff said...

Thank you, Andy. Encouraging, much-needed words.

Sandy Hutchison said...

As a long time clergy spouse I find these words very healing ... Thank you

The Observer said...

Beautifully said and accurate for most all clergy I've had the honor to know.

Carlton Kelley said...

Thank you Bishop Andy from Dowagiac Michigan!
Blessings to you.
Carlton Kelley+

Willis Foster said...

Thank you so much. I needed to hear this today.

Anonymous said...

Our rector, Patricia Templeton, accompanied a parishioner, who was a single mom giving birth to twins, all through the birthing process. Now that is real life.

Canon Lesley Hay, Grace Cathedral SF said...

Thanks Bishop Doyle for the reality ckeck- and we watch Downton Abbey too, don't we?

The Rev. John Bedingfield said...

Thank you, Bishop. Well said.

pat cashman said...

Thank you. I struggle to give myself credit and your words help me see myself and my work more clearly. I give thanks to God and trust in the Lord as I to to work today. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Amen to what you said. I know it's true because I know how hard they work and the hours spent listening, counselling...

Anonymous said...

Great post. Let us remember, there are other church staff who are not priest who work just as hard and as many hours and are not treated with dignity. Working in a church is a "Calling" and we need to remember to pray for those who work in the church and who volunteer in the church.

Stephen Secaur said...

bishop, thanks for the encouraging words. Good to read after a grueling Holy Week.

Linda Abner said...

Our Rector is a full time hospital chaplain, part (yeah, right) rector, and a volunteer chaplain to his local fire department! How much more real can it get than this???

Ellen Ekstrom said...

+Andy, this made me burst into tears because it is the truth and it speaks of my life as a deacon. Thank you.

Francisco ALBERCA said...

Thank you so much Bishop Doyle
Gracias de corazón Señor Obispo Doyle

Reverendo. Dr. FRANCISCO ALBERCA
Vicario de San Pablo dentro de los Muros de Roma
Dirección: Vía Napoli, 58 – 00184 Roma-It
Tel. 0039-3284144562
E-mail: albercafrancisco@live.com
www.lulu.com/spotlight/franciscoalbercamerino

Quotes

  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball