I'm writing this to all of you who are spiritual leaders, which, if you are Presbyterian at least, means I'm writing it for all of you. We believe strongly that the "ministers" are "all the people." We are all called to lead with our voices, with our actions, and most especially with our love. But that is why I am writing this today. Because I'm aware of my own feelings and I cannot help but believe that many of you probably share some of these with me.
If you are like me, you may be feeling discouraged, frustrated and sad. If you are like me, you may even be wondering what you have been doing for the last however-many-years that you've been serving in the church. If you are like me, you are wondering if the words you have preached, the scriptures you have quoted, the stories you have told have made one iota of difference. If you are like me you are wondering if the mouths you have fed, the blankets you have given, the council meetings at which you've spoken, the letters and phone calls you have made, the music you have played, the houses you have repaired, the children you have taught, the hands you have held, the sick and imprisoned whom you have visited, the protests you have made and the prayer circles you have created have mattered at all. If you are like me you have had some moments recently of wondering if it was just time to quit, to own that everything we do does not matter and in the end all the education programs you've created and the opportunities for growing, healing, learning, worshiping, praying have been for nought, if it isn't just time to own our ineffectiveness and our pointlessness and walk away from it all.
So I'm going to repeat what the wise people in my life remind me of on a monthly, weekly and, recently, daily basis:
All that we are called to do is what is in front of us to do. We are called to speak the scriptures of love that we read. We are called to stand with those who are voiceless and to offer healing, empowerment, strength and comfort to all around us. We are called to lift up the low and bring down the mighty.
BUT, and this is key here, we are not in charge of how what we do will be taken, how it will be used, who it will change and who it will pass over. We are not in charge of the outcome.
We throw the ball. But once it is out of our hands, we no longer have control over where it lands. We pray and trust that if we strive to do what God asks us to do that God will use it for good. That is all we can do. That's it. We speak the words, but once they have left our mouths we are no longer in charge of who will hear them, how they will be taken in or whether or not others listen and understand.
We have to keep going. We have to keep walking. But we can let go of needing to succeed because what happens after we have done the work is not up to us.
You may hear this as a relief. Or you may be devastated to hear this. But the reality is we cannot control the "other". We can't. So I say again, all we can do is what we are called to do. Whatever your gift is, use it. Whatever your call is, follow it. Whatever God asks you to do, do it. Do it with grace, do it with love, do it with compassion and do it with conviction. And then do the next thing as it comes up. And the thing after that. And the thing after that. But do not despair at the outcome. Because that is in God's hands. Be the person you are called to be. And find your peace in having followed your path to the fullest, whatever follows.