|Allyson at her ordination|
I'm not saying that people see ministers (I'll use that term to encompass all of the religious service titles, because I see it as a verb more than a noun, as in, "one who ministers to others") as super-human or heroes or anything. However, there is a difference in the way we are treated when we put on our symbols.
When I was serving as a helper at our local church, prior to my ordination, I would wear nice clothes, or even sometimes a robe, but no symbols. I suppose I could have, but I did not feel that I had earned them. The first time I preached at that church, the place I had attended for three years, in front of people who had seen me at my best and worst, I was treated differently after I had my stole on. I was suddenly Different.
|Allyson, Spring Rites 2009|
It's important to act in a way that is accepting of the status of Different, but without believing our own stereotyping. Why is the minister different from others? We have accepted responsibility to serve others before ourselves. We have taken on the mantle of leadership and we guide people in an incredibly sensitive arena, the spiritual one. We handle people's souls, and we must never, EVER forget that. In that alone, we are Different.
There's a fine line, though, that we need to walk. The best ministers I have met are flawed human beings, just like I am. My mentor, Rev. Alison Jacobs, was wonderful enough to show me her flaws, to let me see how she handled them. I believe I am a better minister because of that, and I was definitely a better person because of it.
Our flaws, our problems... They make us approachable. They don't take away from that symbol that says we are Different, that we are ready and willing to handle the souls that choose to be with us and journey with us. However, they show those souls, those wonderful people, that there is no sin in having problems.
Depression, grief, illness, anger, frustration... These feelings and more are felt by ministers in every country, every culture around the world. We serve the souls around us better when we are honest about those feelings, and when we can find helpful, healing ways to share them.
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