17 thoughts on not being a pastor

stopsign1.  I never much liked the title anyway, so that’s lucky.

2.  When I first heard that I might not be relicensed this year I was panicked, angry, hurt, and desperate to get the Credentials Board to change their mind.  By the time the door closed firmly behind me (yesterday) I knew it was in everyone’s best interest for us to part ways.  So thank you for that, God.  I almost feel relieved right now (though I know that grief is on its way).

3.  You can explain and explain, but sometimes people are just not going to see things the way that you do.  That doesn’t reflect negatively on you or them.  It’s just reality.

4.  I am very slow in learning #3.

5. I’m much stronger than I used to be and quite capable of advocating for myself.  Yay, me.

6. To be honest, I  wish I’d made a career plan at some point.  I  mean, another career plan.

7. When God asked me to give my life to His church, I thought He meant in the church.  Frankly, though, I don’t feel like my ministry in the local church has been very fruitful.  The most meaningful work I’ve done in the last several years has happened outside the church walls.  So maybe, like John Wesley, the world is my parish.  Or at least the coffee shop, or Denny’s, or the movie theater, or the internet.  That’s not so bad, is it?

road  closed8. I keep telling myself that the classes I’ve already finished were not wasted.  Ordained or not, I’ve gained a lot valuable information.  And if anyone has a job for someone who who has completed most of the course load for ordination in the Church of the Nazarene, I’m your gal!

9. I am, and will remain, a a church geek.  I still want a copy of Mildred Bangs Wynkoop’s “A Theology of Love”.  I will never stop wearing my “Female Theologians Rock” button.

10. I love my church, and I remain convinced that I fit somewhere in my denomination.  It’s still a big tent.  Unfortunately for me, ordination comes through a much smaller and regionally-determined tent.

11.  I have nothing to hide, so if you want to know why I wasn’t relicensed, I’ll tell you.  But ask me privately (in person , in an email or Facebook message, whatever).  I’m afraid if I try to explain it in a post I’ll either misrepresent the Credentials Board’s perspectives or my own.  I assure you that it’s nothing scandalous; just irreconcilable differences.

12.  If you care about me at all, please don’t use me as an excuse to bash the Church, or I’ll just feel super guilty and compelled to rush to Her defense.  #askmehowIknow

13.  Everything that has happened feels, to use a “Law and Order” phrase, like the fruit of the poisonous tree.  The extra scrutiny from the Credentials Board started with the false accusations I wrote about last summer.  It certainly rankles my sense of justice that someone lied about me in order to prevent me from being ordained, and now that all the dominoes have fallen he’s getting his way.  I remind myself often that I can’t frame this as winning and losing….but it’s not easy.  You guys, I’m struggling a lot with forgiveness.  It’s so hard when the other person won’t acknowledge that they’ve wronged you, and some of the people around you diminish what’s been done, and you feel like “the wicked prosper” while you’re flattened, and humiliated and feel like damaged goods, and there’s no real recourse.

14.  That got a little dark.  Sorry.  I know Jesus understands being betrayed by a friend, so that helps.  And I trust that eventually this pain has to dull.

open road15.  Here’s what I won’t miss about being a licensed pastor:  being afraid to speak.  Maybe  my compulsive, possibly pathological, need to share what’s in my head would have inevitably gotten me in trouble – even without the poison tree.  Pastors are expected to be very, very careful and to not admit to too many questions.  And I am a fool who rushes in and has tons of questions.  I want to tell my truth without fear again.  I look forward to that.

16.  I know that even sharing this much will be considered bad form and un-Christian by some people.  We have this idea that we protect the church by promoting the good stuff and hiding the bad stuff, but I’m an increasingly bad hider.  In case you haven’t figured this out yet, I love the church.  I don’t tell my story to shame the church but because it’s my story.  And I want to tell it.

17.  I’m still crazy about Jesus, and I know He’s crazy about me.  He’s brought so many beautiful people into my  life in the last several years, so many rich experiences, and even though I have no idea what’s ahead I trust Him with it.  Somehow this is going to be okay.  I wanted you all to know what’s going on because some of you have been with me on this journey since I embraced God’s call.  I don’t know what’s next, but to quote Gungor (and my next tattoo) “This is not the end.”

Love, Sharon

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About Sharon Autenrieth

Wife, mom to 5, homeschooler, Christian Education Director, idealist, malcontent, follower of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Christian Ministry, Christianity, church, religion, spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 17 thoughts on not being a pastor

  1. Joe Butler says:

    Just a thought…a manmade “Credentials Board” is not necessary in order to teach God’s word according to the Bible. Maybe you can still be effective for God’s kingdom without the title of “Pastor.”

    Like

  2. jubilare says:

    Health comes from not hiding sickness. I think that we, as Christians, have a responsibility to never feign perfection. It’s the only way for the rest of the world to look at us and see something more than self-deluded liars is for us not to try and sweep everything under the carpet.

    Anyhow… love and much love to you. My mother is fond of saying that we only get to see the next step, and that is if we are lucky. But God has a plan, and will reveal it to you eventually.
    I’ll pray about the struggle to forgive. God knows I need some help with that, right now, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wayne Colflesh says:

    daughter like father. the Nazarenes would not accept my ordi9nation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hollie says:

    God doesn’t come to take sides….He comes to take over.

    I remember hearing that in a particularly difficult time in my life when I felt wronged by other Christians on a very serious matter. It made me put things in perspective. I wanted justice for my side and for my thoughts and my reasons, but honestly…God just wanted to take the whole thing over. In my case, He wanted me to trust him with the situation. This saying became my mantra. When the fear and anger and grief would come…I would find myself saying over and over…God doesn’t come to take sides. He comes to take over. And in that moment more than anything I needed his Holy Spirit to come and take hold of me.

    Praying for you…for your denomination…and for all parties involved.

    Liked by 1 person

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